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Seasonal sex role changes in the blenniid Petroscirtes breviceps, a nest brooder with paternal care

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Abstract:

The plasticity of the sex roles in the blenniid fish Petroscirtes breviceps, a nest brooder with exclusive paternal care, was studied throughout an 8 month breeding season. Males performed most courtships early and late in the breeding season, whereas females performed most in the middle of the season. These results indicated that the sex of individuals initiating courtship changed seasonally, with courtship role reversal in the middle of the season. Intrasexual aggression in both sexes occurred much more frequently in mid-season than in the early and late seasons. Males frequently fought when available nest sites were limited, regardless of the presence of females, suggesting that males competed for nests in order to qualify to mate (resource competition). In contrast, courting females fought only in mid-season, when females’ relative success in entering nests decreased, indicating that females competed for limited mating opportunities (mating competition). The reversed courtship roles and female mating competition in mid-season suggested that the sex roles in P. breviceps changed seasonally from the conventional roles to reversed roles and back again during one breeding season. This study provides the first empirical evidence of multiple changes in the sex roles of animals within a breeding season.

Keywords: courtship role; female courtship; female mate competition; male resource competition; nest availability; sex role plasticity

Document Type: Regular Paper

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1095-8649.2006.01086.x

Affiliations: Laboratory of Animal Sociology, Department of Biology and Geosciences, Graduate School of Science, Osaka City University, Sumiyoshi, Osaka 558-8585, Japan

Publication date: 2006-07-01

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