Acquisition of Breeding Space by Nonbreeders in the Anemonefish Amphiprion clarkii in Temperate Waters of Southern Japan


Mukaishima Marine Biological Station, Faculty of Science, Hiroshima University, Onomichi, P.O. Box 722, Japan


Behavior of Amphiprion clarkii, especially of nonbreeders, was investigated at the shore of boulders and rocks in Uwa Sea, southern Japan. All individuals except small ones under one year were tagged. Movements of A. clarkii between host sea anemones were usual in this study area where host anemones were abundant, unlike in the general habitat (coral reefs) of Amphiprion, where movements between hosts are restricted. Monogamous pairs established almost contiguous territories containing all hosts except small ones. Nonbreeders had home ranges on the fringes of the pairs' territories and sheltered in relatively small hosts. Breeding spaces were saturated with breeders and were available for nonbreeders only after disappearance of one or both members of an established breeding pair. Home ranges of nonbreeders of similar body size were spaced out, due perhaps to competition for breeding spaces. It is suggested that large nonbreeders refrained from becoming females to keep their gonads ambosexual, so that they could replace either sex in a territory as breeding space became available, or, in pairing with other nonbreeders, the larger fish of the pair could take the female role.