[en] Current theories on the alternative mating tactics suppose that individuals may opt for particular behavioral patterns depending of their morphological status. Facultative paedomorphosis in newts and salamanders is a suitable process to explore this question because it implies the coexistence of two different morphological morphs differing by the presence of gills and epigamic traits. The aim of this study was to find out whether paedomorphs and metamorphs use similar tactics to attract mates in the presence of a rival and whether there are differences in sexual activity and success between alternative morphs. Sexual interactions in triadic encounters were staged and analyzed in a standardized experimental design. The two kinds of males did not differ in terms of sexual activity, spermatophore deposition or female responsiveness. Both rival paedomorphic and metamorphic males exhibited sexual interference, but in most encounters, intruders just disturbed the courting pair. Sperm transfer success was lower in triadic encounters than in dyadic encounters. These results illustrate that intermorph breeding also occurs in the presence of competitors but that the success rate of the newts is considerably decreased in such competitive situations. Moreover, newts do not use alternative reproductive tactics depending on their status (i.e., paedomorpho or metamorph).
Fonds de la Recherche Scientifique (Communauté française de Belgique) - F.R.S.-FNRS