Pair formation in the herbivorous rabbitfish Siganus doliatus

Brandl, S.J., and Bellwood, D.R. (2013) Pair formation in the herbivorous rabbitfish Siganus doliatus. Journal of Fish Biology, 82 (6). pp. 2031-2044.

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Abstract

This study investigated the basis of pair formation in the abundant herbivorous rabbitfish Siganus doliatus on Orpheus Island, Great Barrier Reef. Pair formation was the most common social system in S. doliatus, with 67.4% of all individuals occurring in pairs. Pairs were stable (i.e. individuals remained with the same partner throughout the study) and pair members were found within 5 m of each other 82.9% of the time. Of the examined pairs, 25% were homosexual resulting in a proportion of heterosexual pairs (75%) that was significantly lower than expected if pairs were formed solely for reproductive reasons. Therefore, although reproduction appears to be the main driver of pair formation in S. doliatus, other factors are likely to influence this behaviour. The high density of individuals on the reef crest (5.7 ± 0.9 individuals 200 m−2; mean ± s.e.) and extensively overlapping home ranges of pairs indicated that the defence of territories plays no role in pair formation. Instead, it appears that pair formation in S. doliatus is driven, in part, by other, non-reproductive, ecological factors. It is suggested that pair formation allows for increased vigilance against predation and enables S. doliatus to execute a novel feeding behaviour.

Item ID: 28743
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1095-8649
Keywords: coral reef fishes, feeding ecology, monogamy, pairing behaviour, Siganidae, social system
Date Deposited: 07 Aug 2013 05:38
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl Marine Ichthyology) @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960808 Marine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 100%
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