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Effects of social experience on pair bonding in a monogamous fish (Amatitlania nigrofasciata)

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For species in which individuals spend at least some time in groups, dominance relationships and various social cues are often important for mate assessment and choice. For pair bonding species, social experiences may affect reproductive decisions in both sexes. We tested whether prior experience in a mixed-sex group and having a higher dominance status coincides with faster pair formation or spawning in a monogamous fish. Individuals having prior experience in mixed-sex groups paired with a novel fish more frequently than fish from same-sex groups. Fish in mixed-sex groups performed more bites and lateral displays. Although spawning occurred infrequently across pairs, dominant fish from mixed-sex groups spawned more than dominant fish from same-sex groups. Otherwise, there were no clear behavioural relationships between treatment group and subsequent pair formation or spawning, nor were behaviours of the paired fishes related to their prior treatment group. We do not know how mixed-sex social experience may have affected the physiology of those individuals, although our results support a reproductive priming effect.

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

*Corresponding author’s e-mail address:

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