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Full Access Effects of fighting on pairing and reproductive success

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Effects of fighting on pairing and reproductive success

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Our study investigated the effects of winning, losing, or not participating in a fight on pairing and mating behaviour in a cichlid fish, the blockhead (Steatocranus casuarius). In this study, males that won a fight were significantly more successful at pairing and reproducing than either males that lost a fight or males that had not fought. Males' and females' behaviour also differed depending on males' fighting experience. Winning males spent significantly more time engaged in courtship behaviours such as quivering next to a female compared to males that lost fights or did not fight. Also, winning males more often used moderately aggressive behaviours such as tail beating when with their potential mates. Highly aggressive acts like biting were not correlated with pairing success; such acts were common in no-fight males but infrequent in both winner and loser treatments. Females with winning males were the most likely to show appeasement behaviour such as tilting when approached by the male, and females with males that had not fought were most likely to bite their males, which could have been either a response to or a result of the higher levels of biting displayed by those males.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Biology, Alverno College, 3400 S. 43rd Street, Milwaukee, WI 53234, USA;, Email:; 2: Department of Biology, University of Louisville, Louisville, KY 40292, USA


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