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Keywords:

  • coral reef fish;
  • interspecific competition;
  • sex change;
  • size-structured population

Abstract

The effect of a larger anemonefish Amphiprion clarkii (Bennett) on the social and mating system of a smaller congener Amphiprion perideraion (Bleeker) was investigated on a coral reef at Okinawa, Japan, where both species use the same host sea anemone Heteractis crispa (Ehrenberg). The population of A. perideraion consisted of adult, subadult and juvenile groups. Adult groups, which consisted of one or two adults and a varying number of subadults and juveniles, usually did not share the host with A. clarkii. In contrast, subadult and juvenile groups, which included no adults, always cohabited with A. clarkii. In the heterospecific groups, subadult A. perideraion were able to mature histologically, and changed to female when they were the largest among conspecific members, although their reproduction was suppressed by A. clarkii. After all members of A. clarkii emigrated or disappeared from a heterospecific group, adult A. perideraion could begin breeding. I suggest that A. perideraion in both heterospecific and conspecific groups adopt a mating strategy that involves waiting for vacated breeding posts because of their low mobility and a low host density.