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Abstract

The behaviour of the three mediterranean benthic fish Tripterygion tripteronotus, T. xanthosoma, and T. melanurus is described from observations in the field and observations on captive animals.

The ♂♂ defend a territory only during the reproductive season; ♀♀ do not defend a territory. At the height of the breeding season, a male T. tripteronotus on average spawns with four ♀♀ Per day. The ♂ defends the territory against egg predators and cleans the eggs. ♀♀ spawn repeatedly during a spawning season.

A spawning pair of T. tripteronotus frequently attracts conspecifics. The majority of these “satellites” are small, sexually mature ♂♂, which do not own a territory themselves. The reproductive strategies of the two types of ♂♂ (territorial ♂♂ and satellite ♂♂) and of the ♀♀ are discussed.

On the basis of ethological, morphological, and palaegeographic data the evolution of the eastern-atlantic and mediterranean Tripterygiidae is reconstructed.

A bibliography of the literature on eastern-atlantic and mediterranean Tripterygiidae is given.

As in their morphology and anatomy, benthic fish show convergent adaptations in their behaviour. Some of these are pointed out and discussed.