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Tactic changes in dusky frillgoby Bathygobius fuscus sneaker males: effects of body size and nest availability


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Field and laboratory studies were conducted to examine the effects of nest availability and body size on changes in male mating tactics from sneaking to nest-holding in the dusky frillgoby Bathygobius fuscus. In the field, the body size of nest-holding males decreased from early to mid-breeding season, suggesting the possibility of a change in the tactics of sneaker males to nest-holding. Many sneaker males did not use vacant spawning nests even when size-matched nests were available, but they continued to reproduce as sneakers. Similarly, in aquarium experiments with available vacant nests, some sneaker males became nest-holders irrespective of their body size, but some did not. These results showed that nest availability is not a limiting factor for changes in tactics by sneaker males in this species. Because tactic-unchanged sneaker males were co-housed with larger nest-holding males in the tanks, the body size of nearby nest-holding males may have affected the decision to change tactics for sneaker males. Moreover, smaller individuals among tactic-changed males tended to spend more time until spawning, probably because they had relatively larger costs and smaller benefits of reproduction as nest-holding males compared to larger males.