Effects of Nest Quality on Male Courtship and Female Spawning-site Choice in an Algal-Nesting Damselfish
In most damselfishes, males defend a nest site to which they attract females. Progress in identifying the attributes of natural nests that contribute to male spawning success through female choice has been limited by the difficulty of manipulating nest traits independent of male traits. One potentially confounding male trait that has been largely ignored is the effect of nest-site quality on male courtship behavior. In an earlier study, the number of days required for a male garibaldi (Hypsypops rubicundus) to receive an initial clutch of eggs was shown to be inversely related to a measure of the thickness of the algal mat. This same relationship was found in the present study. However, males with sparse algal cover tended to be less likely to court passing females. When algal cover was manipulated, males with experimentally reduced algal cover were significantly less likely to court than control males. To control for the effects of male courtship, I conducted a within-nest experiment in which most of the algae was removed from one half of the nest. Females always deposited eggs on the half that retained thick algal growth, suggesting that algal cover also affects female choice.
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Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: 1995-11-01
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