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Free Content Male Mating Success and Female Choice in Permanently Territorial Damselfishes

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The reproductive ecology of permanently territorial damselfishes has been one of the best studied areas of reef fish behavioral ecology. This paper reviews the literature on these species, focusing on three aspects of damselfish reproductive behavior: 1) Correlates and determinants of variation in male mating success, 2) The effects of using artificial versus natural oviposition sites on both the correlates of and variation in male mating success, and 3) Female reproductive biology. The most consistent correlate of male mating success in nine species examined was the presence of eggs in the nest, male courtship rate was positively correlated with male mating success in two of four cases and there were no clear examples of a correlation of male size with male mating success. In the nine cases where a correlate of both male mating success and egg survivorship was reported, there was a one-to-one correspondence between the correlation of a trait with increased egg survivorship and the same trait correlated with increased mating success. Thus, females appear to select for direct fitness benefits in the form of increased egg survivorship when choosing mates. There is no evidence that the dynamics of mate choice and variation in male mating success in these damselfishes systematically changes when artificial oviposition sites are used instead of natural sites within a population. The comparison of studies using artificial versus natural oviposition sites showed little difference in either the correlates of male mating success or the coefficient of variation in male mating success. Little data exist on female reproductive biology in these species except for inferences from data collected on patterns of male mating success. Female biology is the least understood area of damselfish reproductive biology and should provide the most new insights into this group in the near future.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 1995-11-01

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  • The Bulletin of Marine Science is dedicated to the dissemination of high quality research from the world's oceans. All aspects of marine science are treated by the Bulletin of Marine Science, including papers in marine biology, biological oceanography, fisheries, marine affairs, applied marine physics, marine geology and geophysics, marine and atmospheric chemistry, and meteorology and physical oceanography.
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