, Volume 157, Issue 3, pp 495-503
Date: 10 Nov 2009

Patterns of shelter usage and social aggregation by the vocal Lusitanian toadfish

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In some marine fishes, males migrate from deeper to littoral water to breed, where they defend nests and provide parental care. In this study, we describe seasonal patterns of shelter occupation in estuarine shallow waters and assess social aggregation in the Lusitanian toadfish (Batrachoididae), a vocal species with male parental care. Occupation of intertidal shelters was restricted to the breeding season but adult fish remained in subtidal regions during the non-reproductive season and they produced sounds throughout the year. Intertidal shelters were aggregated with up to five shelters found per 2-m segment of an 80-m transect. This aggregation probably resulted from social attraction since many segments were found unoccupied. Moreover, shelters contained on average two fish (maximum of nine). Based on size, shelters with multiple fish seemed to contain females, or possibly sneakers, but also more than one type I male inside, indicating a high social tolerance for conspecifics.