Choosy males in a haplochromine cichlid: First experimental evidence for male mate choice in a lekking species

Noam Y. Werner*, Arnon Lotem

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Current theories of mate choice predict that the level of choosiness of males and females will depend on their relative investment in parental care. Males often invest less than females and are expected to be less choosy, especially in lekking species where males contribute only sperm. Our study of the haplochromine cichlid fish Astatotilapia flaviijosephi, a maternal mouthbrooder, provides the first experimental evidence for male mate choice in a lekking species. In this species the number of eggs spawned is positively correlated with female weight, thus making larger females potentially better mates. In the laboratory, we conducted a simultaneous choice experiment where males had the opportunity to associate with, and court, each of two females that differed in size. Males preferred to court the larger female and spent more time courting during experimental trials involving larger females. This selective allocation of courtship effort to more attractive (i.e. heavier) females suggests that there may be constraints on males in fertilizing multiple females, thus compelling them to be choosy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)293-298
Number of pages6
JournalAnimal Behaviour
Volume66
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2003

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