Journal of Ethology

, Volume 34, Issue 3, pp 263–275 | Cite as

Polygamous mating system and protogynous sex change in the gobiid fish Fusigobius neophytus

  • Miyuki Tsuboi
  • Yoichi Sakai


Whereas mating behaviors and social structure have been studied extensively in monogamous hermaphroditic gobiid species, such studies are relatively limited for polygamous gobiid species. To investigate the reproductive strategy of polygamous gobies, mating groups of the common fusegoby Fusigobius neophytus were observed on reefs of Kuchierabu-jima Island, southern Japan. Males established mating nests on flat-rock surfaces within their territorial home ranges on sandy rubble flats. Females maintained independent home ranges outside the male home ranges during nonreproductive periods, but they shifted their home ranges to overlap with male ranges and actively visited male mating nests during their reproductive periods (1–3 days at ca. 7-day intervals). Females often changed mates during their serial mating. The mating system used by the common fusegoby fits with the definition of male-territory-visiting polygamy. The sex ratio within the study population was female-biased. Nest-holding males were significantly larger than females and were polygynous (mating with up to eight females). These characteristics fit well with the prediction of protogyny by the size-advantage model. Some of the females were observed to undergo functional sex changes to nest-holding males. In addition, small floating males demonstrated sneaking behavior. None of the floating males were derived from females that had changed sex, suggesting a diandric life-history pathway for F. neophytus.


Male-territory-visiting polygamy Protogyny Diandry Sneaking behavior Fusigobiusneophytus Field observation 



We thank the people of Kuchierabu-jima Island for allowing the field survey, and Prof. Hiroaki Hashimoto and colleagues at the Laboratory of Biology of Aquatic Resources, Hiroshima University as well as Mr. Y. Masui (Blue7C) for their support of this study. We would also like to express our deep gratitude to two anonymous reviewers for their critical reading of our manuscript. This study was supported by grants from the Inamori Foundation and JSPS KAKENHI grants (Nos. 17770017, 24370006, 24570033, and 15K07222). This paper was written in memory of Prof. Kenji Gushima, who consistently and kindly supported us during the present study.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Ethical notes

All procedures performed in the present study were in accordance with the guidelines for proper conduct of animal experiments and related activities of Hiroshima University (ID: CD001737) and the guidelines for ethological studies of the Japan Ethological Society.


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Copyright information

© Japan Ethological Society and Springer Japan 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Graduate School of Biosphere ScienceHiroshima UniversityHigashi-HiroshimaJapan

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