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Males respond differently than females to mate loss in the biparental convict cichlid fish

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Using the biparental convict cichlid fish, Archocentrus nigrofasciatus, we examined whether the loss of a mate prior to spawning influences pair re-formation and reproduction. We manipulated an individuals' "readiness to mate" by removing its mate within 24 h prior to spawning and immediately replacing it with a similar sized individual that had not been exposed to prior courtship. Most pairs with a replaced male showed an increase in aggression and courtship but, within 24 h, successfully spawned. We determined that resident females required the presence of a male before depositing their eggs and the likelihood of forming this new pair bond remained unchanged in spite of the abbreviated premating period. Pairs in which females were replaced (i.e., male is the resident) took longer to spawn than control pairs. Courtship behavior did not increase with the addition of the new female, further illustrating that spawning was not imminent. Here again we provide evidence that the likelihood of forming a pair bond remained unchanged. We suggest that unlike females that were provided with a new male, a male provided with new female delays spawning because of his prior pair bond attachment to the initial female.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Biological Sciences, Lehigh University, 111 Research Drive, Bethlehem, PA 18015, USA

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