Get access

Reproductive parasitism: male and female responses to conspecific and heterospecific intrusions at spawning in a mouth-brooding cichlid Ophthalmotilapia ventralis

Authors

  • M. P. Haesler,

    Corresponding author
    1. Division of Behavioural Ecology, Institute of Ecology and Evolution, University of Bern, Wohlenstrasse 50a, CH-3032 Hinterkappelen, Switzerland
    Search for more papers by this author
  • C. M. Lindeyer,

    1. Department of Animal Ecology, Institute of Biology, University of Leiden, P. O. Box 9516, 2300 RA Leiden, The Netherlands
    Search for more papers by this author
    • Present address: Behavioural Biology, Utrecht University, P. O. Box 80086, 3508 TB Utrecht, The Netherlands.

  • M. Taborsky

    1. Division of Behavioural Ecology, Institute of Ecology and Evolution, University of Bern, Wohlenstrasse 50a, CH-3032 Hinterkappelen, Switzerland
    Search for more papers by this author

Author to whom correspondence should be addressed at present address: Department of Aquatic Ecology and Macroevolution, Institute of Ecology and Evolution, University of Bern, Baltzerstrasse 6, CH-3012 Bern, Switzerland. Tel.: +41 31 631 3016; fax: +41 31 631 3008; email: marcel.haesler@iee.unibe.ch

Abstract

A rare form of alternative reproductive behaviour without simultaneous parasitic spawning was observed in Ophthalmotilapia ventralis, a lekking mouth-brooding cichlid from Lake Tanganyika. Floater males attempted to sneak opportunistically into the territory to actively court the female, while the owner (bourgeois male) defended the territory against other potential intruders. Floater males had more body fat than territory owners and generally higher condition factors. In field experiments, the response of bourgeois males and courted females was tested towards floaters and egg predators (a catfish Synodontis multipunctatus) present in the territories. Territory owners responded aggressively particularly to floaters, and female responsiveness to bourgeois male courtship tended to decline when floaters were present. The potential influence of reproductive parasitism on sexual selection in mouth-brooding cichlids is discussed.

Ancillary