Site fidelity facilitates pair formation in aggregations of coral reef cardinalfish

Rueger, Theresa, Gardiner, Naomi M., and Jones, Geoffrey P. (2018) Site fidelity facilitates pair formation in aggregations of coral reef cardinalfish. Oecologia, 186 (2). pp. 425-434.

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Colonial animals often form stable pair bonds, returning to the same site to breed with the same partner every year. Familiarity with both partner and breeding site has the potential to enhance an individual’s reproductive success. However, it is often unknown whether the mating system arises because of site fidelity, mate fidelity or both. Here, observational and experimental studies are used to identify causal links between site fidelity and pair formation in a group-living coral reef cardinalfish, Sphaeramia nematoptera. A long-term field tagging study was undertaken to quantify site and mate attachment. This was followed by both mate removal and mate transplant experiments to test whether the prolonged association with home sites was primarily because of mate or site fidelity. Adult S. nematoptera exhibited a prolonged association with home sites and partners, with some pairs lasting more than 4 months at the same site. A Bayesian mixed effect model showed that individuals in pairs were more likely to remain site attached, regardless of sex and maturity. Following mate removal, 78% of S. nematoptera found a new partner within 2 weeks on the same site, supporting the hypothesis that individuals primarily exhibit site fidelity. This was confirmed by the partner translocation experiment, with only 1 of 24 fish following their translocated partner to a new site. In these cardinalfish, strong site attachment facilitates long-lasting pair bonds, as well as new pair formation when necessary, suggesting that site rather than mate fidelity is the major driver of the reproductive system.

Item ID: 52288
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1432-1939
Keywords: site fidelity; mate fidelity; monogamy; mate removal cardinalfish; pairing behaviour; social system
Funders: Australian Research Council (ARC)
Projects and Grants: ARC grant no. CE140100020
Date Deposited: 01 Feb 2018 04:46
FoR Codes: 31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310305 Marine and estuarine ecology (incl. marine ichthyology) @ 100%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences @ 100%
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