The color pattern of females of the protogynous fish Anthias squamipinnis contrasted strongly with the color pattern of males. Both in the laboratory and in the field, females were induced to change sex by removing a male from their social groups. Color changes of the sex-reversing
fish occurred in two phases: a short term phase, in which the basic pattern of male coloration was laid down in black or black-violet pigment; and a long term phase during which the black-violet coloration became progressively paler and more purely red or red-violet. During the short term
phase in the laboratory, color changes appeared first on the pelvic fins or in the head-nape region, next on the dorsal fin or in the superior pectoral region, then on the caudal fin, and finally in the inferior pectoral region. The day-by-day sequence of changes was characterized by an early
onset (3–6 days after male removal), a short interim period (2–11 days), and a short total time for completion (7–16 days after male removal). 75% of 44 sex reversals in the lab and in the field followed this typical sequence. Sequences in the field were slightly more prolonged
than sequences in the laboratory. Two atypical sequences characterized the remaining sex reversals. Differences in the temporal characteristics of color change sequences appeared to be related primarily to differences in the social circumstances surrounding the initiation of sex reversal.
It appeared likely, therefore, that social factors could influence the sequence of coloration changes during sex reversal.
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