Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 24, Issue 6, pp 409–415 | Cite as

The effects of mating system on male mate choice in a coral reef fish

  • E. P. van den Berghe
  • R. R. Warner


We show how mate limitation appears to be critical in determining whether or not males exercise mate choice among available females. Thalassoma bifasciatum is a Caribbean reef fish with two distinct mating patterns: group-spawning and pair-spawning. In both mating systems, female fecundity is variable and size dependent, and female availability is high. However, sperm competition among group-spawning males apparently limits the number of effective matings in which a male may engage, whereas territorial pair-spawning males have little or no such limitation. Group-spawning males should be discriminating in their choice of mates and our data confirm this: there is strong evidence for assortative mating in group-spawns, with more large males joining in mating groups around large females. In contrast, pair-spawning males show no indication of mate preferences, and spawn with all females who arrive at their territories.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • E. P. van den Berghe
    • 1
  • R. R. Warner
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Biological Sciences and Marine Science InstituteUniversity of CaliforniaSanta BarbaraUSA

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