Environmental Biology of Fishes

, Volume 5, Issue 2, pp 155–159

Lunar periodicity in the spawning of yellowtail damselfish,Microspathodon chrysurus

  • Peter H. Pressley

DOI: 10.1007/BF02391622

Cite this article as:
Pressley, P.H. Environ Biol Fish (1980) 5: 155. doi:10.1007/BF02391622


The reproductive behavior of yellowtail damselfish,Microspathodon chrysurus, was studied off the Caribbean coast of Panama to determine if there is a lunar spawning cycle. Male damselfish prepare nest sites on dead coral surfaces within their permanent feeding territories. Spawning occurs at sunrise and lasts for approximately one hour. Males defend the eggs until hatching, which occurs before the morning of the sixth day of incubation. Males spawn only once a day, but may spawn many times within each reproductive phase. Reproductive activity is highest in the time periods from full to new moon. The timing of this lunar cycle differs from those reported for other marine fishes. The spawning pattern is not consistent with common explanations for lunar periodicity that are based on the role of tides or moonlight. Some implications of these results for the organization of tropical reef communities are discussed.


Reproductive behaviorCoral reef fishesCaribbeanTerritoryNestPredationFish larvaeTidesMoonlightCommunity organization

Copyright information

© Dr. W. Junk bv Publishers 1980

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter H. Pressley
    • 1
  1. 1.Smithsonian Tropical Research InstituteBalboaPanama
  2. 2.Department of ZoologyUniversity of CaliforniaBerkeleyUSA