Territorial defense against various food competitors in the Tanganyikan benthophagous cichlid Neolamprologus tetracanthus
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Territorial defense of nonbreeding female Neolamprologus tetracanthus, a shrimp-eating Tanganyikan cichlid, was investigated. Females defended territories (=home ranges, ca. 1 m across) against a variety of intruding fishes. Conspecific females were usually attacked outside the territories, heterospecific benthivores (shrimp eaters) and omnivores near the border of the territories, and piscivores, algae and detritus feeders, and herbivores inside the territories. Females used some parts of the sandy substrate in the territories for foraging (foraging areas). Territorial defense prevented most of the conspecific females and benthivores from intruding into the foraging areas. In omnivores, piscivores, and algae and detritus feeders, about half the intruders were repelled from the foraging areas, although herbivores were infrequently repelled in the areas. Soon after removal of the resident females, many food competitors invaded the foraging areas and eagerly devoured prey, suggesting that the territories are maintained for food resource protection from these competitors. Females are likely to discriminate intruding fishes and change their territorial defense primarily on the basis of the degree of dietary overlap, resulting in monofunctional serial territories.
Key wordsBenthivores Dietary overlap Interspecific feeding territory Neolamprologus tetracanthus
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