, Volume 27, Issue 2, pp 249-254

Mate choice in female convict cichlids (Amatitlania nigrofasciata) and the relationship between male size and dominance

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Abstract

We examined how male size and fighting ability influence a female’s mate assessment process and her eventual mate choice in the monogamous convict cichlid, Amatitlania nigrofasciata. Females always chose the larger of two males when they were allowed to see a larger male next to a smaller one and when a larger male defeated a smaller one in a fight. They did not differentiate between large and small males when they did not see the two males together nor did they choose a dominant over a subordinate male when both were the same size. We suggest that females select on the basis of male size because it is a better predictor of both direct and indirect benefits (i.e., future competitive interactions and foraging ability) than dominance behavior only. Despite selecting one male over the other early in the courtship period, females continued to visit both males until spawning. Our evidence suggests that this assessment behavior more closely resembles a bet-hedging tactic rather than the female’s indecision as to which male will be her mate.