Environmental Biology of Fishes

, Volume 6, Issue 1, pp 59-64

First online:

Maintenance of female mimicry as a reproductive strategy in bluegill sunfish (Lepomis macrochirus)

  • Wallace J. DomineyAffiliated withField of Neurobiology and Behavior, Langmuir Laboratory, Cornell University

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In species where male reproductive success is dependent on male competition and aggression, alternative reproductive patterns, thought to represent a reduction in male reproductive effort, sometimes occur. Female mimicry in bluegill sunfish (Lepomis macrochirus) is an example of an obligate alternative male strategy. Female mimics are small, sexually mature males which mimic the details of female behavior, and gain access to functional females attracted to the nests of large, aggressive territorial males. The costs of female mimicry relative to nesting male behavior are discussed and two hypotheses, deception and mutual gain, are presented to explain the tolerance and ‘courtship’ of female mimics by nesting males.


Behavior Reproduction Sexual selection Mating strategies Pseudofemale Coloniality Centrarchidae