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Observations Sur Le Comportement Sexuel De Tilapia Macrochir B1gr. (Pisces : Cichlidae) Au Lac De Retenue De La Lufira (Katanga). 1)

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Mwadingusha lake (27° long. E., II° lat. S.) is an artificial lake, with an area of 410 Km2, that resulted from the construction of a dam across the Lufira river in 1930. This lake contains important spawning grounds of Tilapia macrochir Blgr. One of these spawning grounds offers exceptionally good conditions for observation. It lies at the very foot of the dam wall. Its population amounts to 200 male individuals of T. macrochir on their breeding territory. From the top of the dam wall, the author could watch the sexual behaviour of this important batch of fishes. It must be emphasized that these fishes can freely move upstream and mingle with the fishes which occupy the other spawning grounds of the lake and vice versa. The data collected at the spawning ground of the Mwadingusha dam acquire a great importance because of the scarcity of observations available on a high number of fishes in an open and free habitat. The conclusions are : In a densely populated spawning ground of T. macrochir: - the male alone selects the site of the territory, builds the nest, and defends the territory. - the union of the pair is fleeting; it lasts no more than the time necessary to fertilize a small batch of eggs (about fifteen). These eggs and the milt are immediately picked up and taken away by the female. The whole performance, from the arrival of the female to her departure with the fertilized eggs, takes as little as 50 to 60 seconds. - by their presence alone, all the inhabitants of the spawning ground, including individuals of other species and juveniles of T. macrochir, can take a part in the distribution of females: by accidentally disrupting the mates, these fishes can induce females to leave the nest and reach another. - successive polygamy by the males and successive polyandry by the females has been found to be the general rule; this ensures a thorough mixing of the population. One female usually holds in her mouth batches of eggs fertilized by different males. - sexes segregate after spawning has been completed : the males stay on their territory whereas the females move away from the spawning grounds.

Affiliations: 1: Institut Zool. Ed. Van Beneden, (Laboratoire d'Ecologie animale), Université de Liège - Belgique


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