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Abstract

A field study of the breeding ecology of the Japanese aucha perch, Siniperca kawamebari, and brood parasitism by the Japanese minnow, Pungtungia herzi, on nests of the perch was carried out from 1989 to 1991. Observations of perch nests under natural conditions in 1990 showed that brood parasitism by the minnow was concentrated on host nests in which nest owners had just begun their nesting cycle. When spawned in a perch nest with recently spawned perch eggs, parasite eggs always hatched earlier than host eggs. An experiment with imitation perch eggs in 1991 confirmed that changing colour of host eggs was the cue for the parasites to distinguish between different developmental stages of host eggs. Parasite eggs rapidly disappeared without guarding by a host male (Baba et al. 1990). This loss was caused by predation by fishes. Parasite fry left the nest immediately after hatching, so parasite eggs spawned in a host nest in an early stage should be well guarded until they hatch. In the field, minnows deposited their eggs in perch nests which had larger numbers of newly spawned perch eggs. Since the perch males always deserted their nests when their own eggs disappeared, the parasite's choice of host nests with larger numbers of host eggs may ensure survival of the parasite eggs. The timing of egg deposition and choice of host nest by the minnow appear to be adaptive in terms of brood parasitism on nests of the perch.