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Sex Differences in the Mate Selection Process Of the Monogamous, Biparental Convict Cichlid, Archocentrus Nigrofasciatum

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Compared to polygynous species, monogamous males and females are considered more similar in their mate choosiness, yet few studies have explored the mate selection process between the sexes. Here, we examined this mate selection process in the monogamous convict cichlid, Archocentrus nigrofasciatus. We presented an individual (i.e. the selector) of each sex with a choice of two alternative, visually and tactilely isolated, mates. Tanks were video taped each day until the selector fish spawned with one of the potential mates (i.e. the accepted mate). The number of visits, length of visits, and courtship interactions were recorded. Selecting females spent significantly more time with accepted versus rejected males (i.e. females expressed a time-based preference for their chosen males), but there was no significant difference in the number of visits made to either male. Selecting females did not court accepted and rejected males differently, but rejected males courted at a significantly higher rate than did accepted males. Although selecting females expressed a time-based preference for accepted males, they continued to visit and court rejected males throughout the mate choice process; thus females did not terminate their selection process until they spawned. In contrast to selecting females, selecting males did not spend a significantly different amount of time with accepted and rejected females while visiting both females equally. Furthermore, selecting males courted accepted females significantly more than they courted rejected females. Thus, males expressed their mate preferences through courtship whereas females expressed them through time spent. Males also courted more than females. Many of these sex differences curiously resemble those of a polygynous social system, which we suggest perhaps indicates polygynous ancestral origins.

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