Environmental Biology of Fishes

, Volume 6, Issue 1, pp 59–64 | Cite as

Maintenance of female mimicry as a reproductive strategy in bluegill sunfish (Lepomis macrochirus)

  • Wallace J. Dominey


In species where male reproductive success is dependent on male competition and aggression, alternative reproductive patterns, thought to represent a reduction in male reproductive effort, sometimes occur. Female mimicry in bluegill sunfish (Lepomis macrochirus) is an example of an obligate alternative male strategy. Female mimics are small, sexually mature males which mimic the details of female behavior, and gain access to functional females attracted to the nests of large, aggressive territorial males. The costs of female mimicry relative to nesting male behavior are discussed and two hypotheses, deception and mutual gain, are presented to explain the tolerance and ‘courtship’ of female mimics by nesting males.


Behavior Reproduction Sexual selection Mating strategies Pseudofemale Coloniality Centrarchidae 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References cited

  1. Avilla, V.L. 1975. A field study of nesting behavior of male bluegill sunfish (Lepomis macrochirus Rafinesque). Amer. Midl. Natur. 96: 195–206.Google Scholar
  2. Boyer, R.L. & L.E. Vogele, 1971. Longear sunfish behavior in two Ozark reservoirs. pp. 13–25. In: Hall, G.E. (ed.) Reservoir Fisheries and Limnology, Spec. Publ. No. 8, Amer. Fish. Soc., Wash., D.C..Google Scholar
  3. Carbine, W.F. 1939. Observations on the spawning habits of centrarchid fishes in Deep Lake, Oakland County, Michigan. Trans. N. Amer. Wildl. Conf. 4: 275–287.Google Scholar
  4. Colgan, P.W. & M.R. Gross. 1977. Dynamics of aggression in male pumpkinseed sunfish (Lepomis gibbosus) over the reproductive phase. Z. Tierpsychol. 43: 139–146.Google Scholar
  5. Dominey, W.J. 1980. Female mimicry in bluegill sunfish — A genetic polymorphism? Nature 284: 546–548.Google Scholar
  6. Foster, M.S. 1977. Odd couples in manakins: A study of social organization and cooperative breeding in Chiroxiphia linearis. Amer. Natur. 111: 845–853.Google Scholar
  7. Gadgil, M. 1972. Male dimorphism as a consequence of sexual selection. Amer. Natur. 106: 574–580.Google Scholar
  8. Gross, M.R. 1979. Cuckoldry in sunfishes (Lepomis: Centrarchidae). Can. J. Zool. 57: 1507–1509.Google Scholar
  9. Helfman, G.S. 1979. Twilight activities of yellow perch,Perca flavescens. J. Fish. Res. Board Can. 36: 173–179.Google Scholar
  10. Hogan-Warburg, A.J. 1966. Social behavior of the ruffPhilomuchu.s pugnax (L.). Ardea 54: 109–229.Google Scholar
  11. Hunter, J.R. 1963. The reproductive behavior of the green sunfish,Lepomis cyanellus. Zoologica 48: 13–24.Google Scholar
  12. Keenleyside, M.H.A. 1972. Intraspecific intrusions into nests of spawning longear sunfish (Pisces: Centrarchidae). Copeia 1972: 2722–278.Google Scholar
  13. Miller, H.C. 1963. The behavior of the pumpkinseed sunfish,Lepomis gibbosus (Linnaeus), with notes on the behavior of other species ofLepomis and the pygmy sunfish,Elassoma everglades. Behaviour 22: 88–151.Google Scholar
  14. Noble, G.K. 1934. Sex recognition in the sunfish.Eupomotis gibbosus (Linne). Copeia 1934: 151–154.Google Scholar
  15. Taylor, J.N. 1979. Behavioral components of reproductive success in male sunfishes of the genusLepomis. Ph.D. thesis, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. 254 pp.Google Scholar
  16. Thornhill, R. 1979. Adaptive female-mimicking behavior in a scorpionfly. Science 205: 412–414.Google Scholar
  17. Wilbur, H.M, D.W. Tinkle & J.P. Collins. 1974. Environmental certainty, trophic level, and resource availability in life history evolution. Amer. Natur. 108: 805–817.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Dr. W. Junk b.v. Publishers 1981

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wallace J. Dominey
    • 1
  1. 1.Field of Neurobiology and Behavior, Langmuir LaboratoryCornell UniversityIthacaU.S.A.

Personalised recommendations