Female Leadership During Migration and the Potential for Sex-Specific Benefits of Mass Spawning in the Brown Surgeonfish (Acanthurus nigrofuscus)
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Spawning aggregations in coral-reef fishes have been hypothesized to confer any one of several mutually non-exclusive benefits, largely expected to serve the interests of both sexes simultaneously. Here we provide indication that in the brown surgeonfish, Acanthurus nigrofuscus, spawning aggregations may confer a sex-specific benefit. Following tagged individuals en-route to their daily spawning-aggregation site we found that while migrating groups (≤20 fish) consist of both males and females, females tend to occupy the lead position more often than expected by chance. In addition, we found evidence that female A. nigrofuscus divide their daily egg-stock among several spawning bouts within the aggregations. We propose that female leadership en-route to spawning aggregations, together with the potential benefits of multiple female mating, are consistent with a sex-specific benefit to spawning aggregations.
Key wordsAcanthurus nigrofuscus Migration Leader Spawning aggregation
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We are indebted to D Goulet for assistance in the field, and to an anonymous reviewer for comments that improved the manuscript’s clarity. MK was funded by the Tobias Landau fellowship for marine research, and by grants provided by The Explorers Club and The Lerner-Gray Fund. AIM was funded by a West Texas A&M University Research Enhancement Grant, and a grant from the Centre for Field Studies at Earthwatch.
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