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Mate Choice in Aidablennius Sphynx (Teleostei, Blenniidae); Females Prefer Nests Containing More Eggs

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Criteria for female mate choice were investigated in a natural population of a Mediterranean blenny, Aidablennius sphynx. Removable test tubes in concrete blocks were offered as nests. Each tube was guarded by a male and females laid eggs in the tubes. Nests with larger broods received significantly more spawning females. The numbers of eggs laid increased with brood size from empty nests to intermediate brood sizes, but this tendency is reversed if nests contain very large broods. Nests with and without broods were exchanged experimentally among males. The number of eggs a male received, after an empty tube was replaced by a tube with eggs, was significantly higher. Conversely, the number of eggs received after a tube with eggs was replaced by an empty tube, was significantly lower. Male display did not increase the probability that females spawned. Male size did not correlate with the numbers of eggs received. It is discussed that female preference for large broods might be adaptive because the number of eggs present in the nest is probably a reliable predictor of the survival chances of the eggs.

Affiliations: 1: Zoological Laboratory, University of Groningen, P.O. Box 14, 9750 AA Haren, The Netherlands; 2: Department of Marine Biology, University of Groningen, P.O. Box 14, 9750 AA Haren, The Netherlands

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