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Evidence for male alternative reproductive tactics in convict cichlids (Amatitlania siquia) in Lake Xiloá, Nicaragua


We present evidence suggesting that some male convict cichlids (Amatitlania siquia) in Lake Xiloá, Nicaragua engage in alternative reproductive tactics (ARTs). These putative ART males were smaller than typical parental males, displayed coloration similar to breeding females, and possessed enlarged gonads. Gonadosomatic indices in these males were 16-fold higher than parental males and three-fold higher than females. This phenotype is consistent with the ‘sneaker’ or ‘satellite’ phenotype reported in other species. A survey of 282 fish in 2014 found three males (1% of all fish, 2% of males) with these characteristics. This finding is significant because convict cichlids are frequently studied in laboratory and field in the context of monogamy and biparental care.

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Thanks to Ken McKaye, Mark McKaye and Eric van den Berghe for logistic support at Lake Xiloá, particularly to Eric van den Berghe for assistance with catching fish in 2014. For field assistance in 2013 we also thank Michele Moscicki and Ben Norton. We would like to thank Rachel Carlson and Justin Lomax for assistance with gonad processing and Grace Scarsella and Blake Pincheck for assistance with the gonad histology. Funding for our fieldwork in Nicaragua was provided by National Science Foundation grants IOS-1051598 to Ethan D. Clotfelter and IOS-1051682 to Ryan L. Earley. This research was approved by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee of the University of Alabama (Protocol #13-12-0055).

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Correspondence to Ryan L. Earley.

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Clotfelter, E.D., Johnson, E.M., Anderson, C. et al. Evidence for male alternative reproductive tactics in convict cichlids (Amatitlania siquia) in Lake Xiloá, Nicaragua. Environ Biol Fish 100, 655–662 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10641-017-0593-2

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  • Sneaker
  • Satellite
  • Gonadosomatic index
  • Sperm
  • Coloration