, Volume 33, Issue 4, pp 281-293

On the sociobiology of four puerto rican parrotfishes (Scaridae)

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Abstract

Behavioral observations were made during SCUBA excursions out of the PRINUL underwater laboratory, off the west coast of Puerto Rico. Most of the work involved four species of parrotfishes, Sparisoma viride, Sparisoma aurofrenatum, Scarus croicensis and Scarus taeniopterus. The species of Sparisoma are relatively patrilocal, solitary, slowly and steadily feeding fishes; the terminal phase (termphase) males of S. aurofrenatum hold large territories that encompass the home ranges, possibly territories, of a number of females. The two species of Scarus are roving, aggregating fish that periodically descend to the bottom where they feed rapidly. Reproductive males are of two types, either highly dimorphic, brilliantly colored termphase males, or midphase males that resemble the females. At times, termphase males become territorial and are visited by females and midphase males. Females spawn with termphase and with midphase males. Aggression in all four species was directed largely to conspecific individuals. All species show the ability to change color rapidly, sometimes dramatically, in social interactions.