Is there a reproductive basis to solitary living versus pair-formation in coral reef fishes?

Pratchett, Morgan S., Pradjakusuma, Oki. A., and Jones, Geoffrey P. (2006) Is there a reproductive basis to solitary living versus pair-formation in coral reef fishes? Coral Reefs, 25 (1). pp. 85-92.

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Many species of coral reef fishes form pairs. While it is assumed that pairs represent the breeding unit of these species, the reproductive status of paired versus solitary individuals, and changes in status associated with pair-formation have seldom been investigated. In order to assess whether pairing is related to reproduction we examined whether the ontogenetic timing of pair formation coincided with the onset of maturation in four species of fishes: Chaetodon lunulatus and Chaetodon melannotus (family Chaetodontidae), and Valenciennea muralis and Valenciennea strigata (family Gobiidae). 65–78% of all fishes occurred in pairs. In C. lunulatus and V. muralis, pair-formation coincided with maturation, suggesting that these species form pairs for breeding. Further, C. lunulatus and V. muralis exhibited significant positive size-assortative pairing, which is often associated with monogamous mating. In contrast, pair formation in C. melannotus and V. strigata did not coincide with maturation. In both these species many solitary individuals were reproductive, and same sex pairs were common. While reproduction may be the basis for pairing in some species, both solitary and paired individuals are capable of breeding in others. We propose that non-reproductive mechanisms, such as predator vigilance, may explain pair-formation in coral reef fishes with non-monogamous breeding systems.

Item ID: 4902
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1432-0975
Keywords: Chaetodon; monogamy; maturation; pair-formation; Valenciennea; vigilance
Date Deposited: 10 Aug 2009 03:34
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl Marine Ichthyology) @ 80%
06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060201 Behavioural Ecology @ 20%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences @ 100%
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