Successful resource‐management and conservation outcomes ideally depend on matching the spatial scales of population demography, local adaptation, and threat mitigation. For marine fish with high dispersal capabilities, this remains a fundamental challenge. Based on daily parentage assignments of more than 4,000 offspring, we document fine‐scaled temporal differences in individual reproductive success for two spatially adjacent (<10 km) populations of a broadcast‐spawning marine fish. Distinguished by differences in genetics and life history, Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) from inner‐ and outer‐fjord populations were allowed to compete for mating and reproductive opportunities. After accounting for phenotypic variability in several traits, reproductive success of outer‐fjord cod was significantly lower than that of inner‐fjord cod. This finding, given that genomically different cod ecotypes inhabit inner‐ and outer‐fjord waters, raises the intriguing hypothesis that the populations might be diverging because of ecological speciation. Individual reproductive success, skewed within both sexes (more so among males), was positively affected by body size, which also influenced the timing of reproduction, larger individuals spawning later among females but earlier among males. Our work suggests that spatial mismatches between management and biological units exist in marine fishes and that studies of reproductive interactions between putative populations or ecotypes can provide an informative basis on which determination of the scale of local adaptation can be ascertained.
This item's license is: Attribution 4.0 International