The Behaviour of the Mediterranean Tripterygion Species (Pisces, Blennioidei)


Max-Planck-Institut für Verhaltensphysiologie, D-8131 Seewiesen, West Germany.


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.