Journal of Ethology

, Volume 24, Issue 1, pp 9–15 | Cite as

Description of alternative male reproductive tactics in a shell-brooding cichlid, Telmatochromis vittatus, in Lake Tanganyika

  • Kazutaka OtaEmail author
  • Masanori Kohda


Telmatochromis vittatus (Cichlidae) is a Tanganyikan substrate brooder which spawns in the gastropod-shell nests of a cichlid, Lamprologus callipterus. We describe male reproductive tactics of T. vittatus in and around the shell nests, where males of various sizes were found. Based on utilization patterns of the shell nests, interactions among males, and spawning behaviors, males could be categorized into four types based on reproductive tactics and in order of body size: sneaker males, satellite males, territorial males and piracy males. Size range of males in tactic groups rarely overlapped. Territorial males defended shell nests harboring multiple females, but during pair-spawning they were occasionally taken over by large piracy males that visited several nests repeatedly. Small sneaker males darted to pair-spawning territorial males and might ejaculate sperm. Satellite males did not perform parasitic spawning but pair-spawned in a single shell outside the nests. Spawning of satellite males was infrequently parasitized. The largest gonado-somatic index (GSI) was found in sneaker males followed by piracy males, territorial males and satellite males, suggesting that gonadal investment of males using the four tactics may be consistent with intensity or risk of sperm competition.


Cichlid Shell brooder Alternative reproductive tactics Reproductive parasitism Sperm competition 



We are grateful to the staff of the Lake Tanganyika Research Unit, Fisheries Research Institute of Zambia, for great help in the field and to colleagues of the Department of Bioscience and Geosciences, Osaka City University for discussion. This work was partly supported by a Grant-in-Aid for Overseas Scientific Rearch (to M.K.) from Japan Ministry of Education, Science, Sports and Culture.


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Copyright information

© Japan Ethological Society and Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Bioscience and Geosciences, Graduate School of ScienceOsaka City UniversitySumiyoshiJapan

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