Characteristics that influence male reproductive success on a lek of Lethrinops c.f. parvidens (Teleostei: Cichlidae)
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Sexual selection has long been proposed as a mechanism leading to the diverse cichlid (Teleostei: Cichlidae) fauna of Lake Malawi, Africa. Many of the shallow-water, sand-dwelling, bower-building cichlid species are particularly well suited for studies of sexual selection because they participate in leks. Since females in lekking systems appear to acquire only genetic material from their mates, it has been suggested that leks are ideal systems to study female mate choice. The objectives of the investigation were to examine Lethrinops c.f. parvidens male bower characteristics (i.e., bower size and location) as well as other male characteristics (i.e., length, gular color, and duration on the lek) for their influence on male mating success as measured by the number of visits, circles, and eggs laid by females. These measures are nested in that a visit by a female may or may not lead to circling, and circling by a female may or may not lead to egg-laying. We found increased bower height and higher numbers of conspecific neighbors (analogous to shallow-water, near-shore bower positions) to be positively, significantly associated with the number of visits by females. The only significant correlate with the number of circles was visits, and similarly circles was the only significant correlate with the number of eggs laid. The R2 value for the egg-laying regression was quite low (19.8%) compared with visits (54.3%) and circling (78.9%), suggesting that females may be using additional cues, that we failed to measure, when in close proximity to males or simply that a small proportion of the females were ready to spawn. Both indirect selection and direct selection pressure due to egg predation may have influenced female choice on the lek.
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