, Volume 4, Issue 2, pp 129-146

Parental care and mating systems of cichlid fishes in Lake Tanganyika: a preliminary field survey

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Abstract

Reproductive ecology and ethology of 52 cichlid fishes were studied along the shore of Myako, east-middle coast of Lake Tanganyika. Seventeen species were substrate-brooders (guarders), 31 were mouthbrooders, and the remaining 4 were intermediate, performing prolonged biparental guarding of fry after mouthbrooding. Among the substrate-brooders maternal care (and polygyny) was seen about as frequently as biparental care. In most of the mouthbrooders only females took care of the brood, but in 3 species eggs and small larvae were mouthbrooded by females and larger fry by males. In most of the maternal mouthbrooders males defended mating territories which females visited to spawn. The mating system differed from lekking in that there was no concentration of territories and males fed within them. In the remaining maternal mouthbrooders males and overlapping home ranges and only temporarily defended courtship sites in each bout of spawning. Brood size, egg size, breeding site, and sexual differences in body size and color are described. The relationship between parentalcare patterns and mating systems within the family Cichlidae are discussed.