Environmental Biology of Fishes

, Volume 25, Issue 1–3, pp 61–78 | Cite as

Environmental determinants of butterflyfish social systems

  • Thomas F. Hourigan


Butterflyfishes (Chaetodontidae) display a variety of social systems, including monogamous pair-bonds, harems, and schooling with group spawning. The range of reproductive options available to butterflyfishes is shaped by their general life history characteristics, such as broadcast spawning with widely dispersed pelagic larvae, large body size and low adult mortality. The distribution and quality of food resources are major determinants of group size and mobility, thereby influencing the relative costs and benefits of available options, and determining specific social systems. Planktivorous and corallivorous butterflyfishes exemplify the relationship between food resources and social systems. Pelagic plankton is a patchy, but temporally and spatially unpredictable food resource which is efficiently exploited by fish in mobile schools. Neither sex is able to monopolize food resources necessary for the other sex, and plantivorous butterflyfishes appear constrained to spawn in groups. In contrast, corals are stable and predictable in space and time, favoring residence in one area and territorial defense of that space by coral-feeding butterflyfishes. Females defend food resources from other females, and males defend territories containing a female from other males. Males attempt to defend areas containing more than one female, but are unsuccessful. A monogamous social system results. This system favors the evolution of cooperative behavior between mates to increase female fecundity, as long as the male has an opportunity of sharing in that reproduction. Mate removal experiments conducted on two monogamous coral-feeding species,Chaetodon multicinctus andChaetodon quadrimaculatus reveal a division of labor between male and female pair-mates. Paired males assume most of the territorial defense activities, allowing their mates to feed more.

Key words

Behavior Chaetodontidae Cooperation Coral reef fish Food resources Mating system Monogamy Plankton Reproduction 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References cited

  1. Allen, G.R. 1979. Butterfly and angelfishes of the world. Vol. 2. John Wiley, New York. 352 ppGoogle Scholar
  2. Bagenal, T.B. 1966. The ecological and geographical aspects of the fecundity of plaice. J. Mar. Biol. Assoc. U.K. 46: 743–751Google Scholar
  3. Barlow, G.W. 1974. Contrasts in social behavior between Central American cichlid fishes and coral-reef surgeon fishes. Amer. Zool. 14: 9–34Google Scholar
  4. Barlow, G.W. 1984. Patterns of monogamy among teleost fishes. Arch. FischWiss. 35: 75–123Google Scholar
  5. Barlow, G.W. 1986. A comparison of monogamy among freshwater and coral-reef fishes. pp. 767–775. In: T. Uyeno, R. Arai, T. Taniuchi & K. Matsuura (ed.) Indo-Pacific Fish Biology, Ichthyological Soc. Japan, TokyoGoogle Scholar
  6. Bauer, J.A., Jr. & S.E. Bauer. 1981. Reproductive biology of pigmy angelfishes of the genus Centropyge (Pomacanthidae). Bull. Mar. Sci. 31: 495–513Google Scholar
  7. Bouchon-Navaro, Y. & C. Bouchon. 1989. Correlations between chaetodontid fishes and coral communities of the Gulf of Aqaba (Red Sea). Env. Biol. Fish. 25: 47–60CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Brett, J.R. & D.D. Groves. 1979. Physiological energetics. pp. 279–352. In: W.S. Hoar, D.J. Randall & J.R. Brett (ed.) Fish Physiology, Volume 7, Academic Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  9. Brown, J.L. 1964. The evolution of diversity in avian territorial systems. Wilson Bull. 6: 160–169Google Scholar
  10. Burgess, W.E. 1978. Butterflyfishes of the world. T.F.H. Publications, Neptune City. 832 ppGoogle Scholar
  11. Charnov, E.L. & W.M. Schaffer. 1973. Life history consequences of natural selection: Cole's result revisited. Amer. Nat. 107: 791–793CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Colin, P.L. 1989. Aspects of the spawning of western Atlantic butterflyfishes (Pisces: Chaetodontidae). Env. Biol. Fish. 25: 131–141CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Doherty, P.J. 1983. Tropical territorial damselfishes: is density limited by aggression or recruitment? Ecology 64: 176–190CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Driscoll, J.W. & J.L. Driscoll. 1988. Pair behavior and spacing in butterflyfishes (Chaetodontidae). Env. Biol. Fish. 22: 29–37CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Ehrlich, P.R., F.H. Talbot, B.C. Russell & G.R.V. Anderson. 1977. The behavior of chaetodontid fishes with special reference to Lorenz's ‘poster coloration’ hypothesis. J. Zool. Lond. 183: 213–228CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Emlen, S.T. & L.W. Oring. 1977. Ecology, sexual selection and the evolution of mating systems. Science 197: 215–223Google Scholar
  17. Fricke, H.W. 1980. Control of different mating systems in a coral reef fish by one environmental factor. Anim. Behav. 28: 561–569CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Fricke, H.W. 1986. Pair swimming and mutual partner guarding in monogamous butterflyfish (Pisces, Chaetodontidae): a joint advertisement of territory. Ethology 73: 307–333CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Geist, V. 1974. On the relationship of social evolution and ecology in ungulates. Amer. Zool. 14: 205–220Google Scholar
  20. Gore, M.A. 1983. The effect of a flexible spacing system on the social organization of a coral reef fish, Chaetodon capistratus. Behaviour 85: 118–145Google Scholar
  21. Gosline, W.A. 1965. Thoughts on systematic works in outlying areas. Syst. Zool. 14: 59–61CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Gronnell, A.M. 1984. Courtship, spawning and social organization of the pipefish, Corythoichthys intestinalis (Pisces: Sygnathidae) with notes on two congeneric species. Z. Tierpsychol. 65: 1–24Google Scholar
  23. Hamilton, W.D. 1971. Geometry for the selfish herd. J. Theor. Biol. 31: 295–311CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Hirshfield, M.F. 1980. An experimental analysis of reproductive effort and cost in the Japanese medaka, Oryzias latipes. Ecology 61: 282–292CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Hobson, E.S. 1974. Feeding relationships of the teleostean fishes on coral reefs in Kona, Hawaii. U.S. Fish. Bull. 72: 915–1031Google Scholar
  26. Hobson, E.S. 1978. Aggregating as a defense against predation in aquatic and terrestrial environments. pp. 219–234. In: E.S. Reese & F.S. Lighter (ed.) Contrasts in Behavior, John Wiley, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  27. Hourigan, T.F. 1984a. The adaptive significance of pair bonding in reef fishes without parental care. Ethology Newsletters 18: 12–13Google Scholar
  28. Hourigan, T.F. 1984b. Pair bond formation and monogamy in two species of Hawaiian butterflyfishes (Fam. Chaetodontidae). Pac. Sci. 38: 363Google Scholar
  29. Hourigan, T.F. 1986a. A comparison of haremic social systems in two reef fishes. pp. 23–28. In: L.C. Drickamer (ed.) Behavioral Ecology and Population Biology, Privat, I.E.C., TouluseGoogle Scholar
  30. Hourigan, T.F. 1986b. An experimental removal of a territorial pomacaetrid: effects on the occurrence and behavior of competitors. Env. Biol. Fish. 15: 161–169CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Hourigan, T.F. 1987. The behavioral ecology of three species of butterflyfishes, Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Hawaii, Honolulu. 496 ppGoogle Scholar
  32. Hourigan, T.F. & C.D. Kelley, 1985. Histology of the gonads and observations on the social behavior of the Caribbean angelfish, Holacanthus tricolor. Mar. Biol. 88: 311–322CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Hourigan, T.F. & E.S. Reese. 1987. Mid-ocean isolation and the evolution of Hawaiian reef fishes. Trends Ecol. Evol. 2: 187–191CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Hourigan, T.F., T.C. Tricas & E.S. Reese. 1988. Coral reef fishes as indicators of environmental stress in coral reefs. pp. 107–135. In: D.F. Soule & G. Kleppel (ed.) Marine Organisms as Indicators, Springer Verlag, BerlinGoogle Scholar
  35. Irons, D.K. 1989. Temporal and areal feeding behavior of the butterflyfish, Chaetodon trifascialis, at Johnston Atoll. Env. Biol. Fish. 25: 187–193CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Jarman, P.J. 1974. The social organization of antelope in relation to their ecology. Behaviour 58: 215–267Google Scholar
  37. Johannes, R.E. 1978. Reproductive strategies of coastal marine fishes in the tropics. Env. Biol. Fish. 3: 65–84CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Kleiman, D.G. 1977. Monogamy in mammals. Quart. Rev. Biol. 52: 39–69CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Knowlton, N. 1979. Reproductive synchrony, parental investment and the evolutionary dynamics of sexual selection. Anim. Behav. 27: 1023–1033CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Lack, D. 1968. Population Studies of Birds. Oxford University Press, Oxford. 341 ppGoogle Scholar
  41. Lassig, B.R. 1977. Socioecological strategies adopted by obligate coral-dwelling fishes. Proc. 3rd. Internat. Coral Reef Symp. 1: 565–570Google Scholar
  42. Lobel, P.S. 1978. Diel, lunar, and seasonal periodicity in the reproductive behavior of the pomacanthid fish, Centropyge potteri, and some other reef fishes in Hawaii. Pac. Sci. 32: 193–207Google Scholar
  43. Lobel, P.S. 1989. Spawning behavior of Chaetodon multicinctus (Chaetodontidae); pairs and intruders. Env. Biol. Fish. 25: 125–130CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Loiselle, P.V. & G.W. Barlow. 1978. Do fishes lek like birds? pp. 31–75. In: E.S. Reese & F.S. Lighter (ed.) Contrasts in Behavior, John Wiley, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  45. Ludwig, G.M. 1984. Contrasts in morphology and life history among Hawaiian populations of two longnose butterflyfishes, Forcipiger longirostris and F. flavissimus: a possible case of character displacement. Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Hawaii, Honolulu. 284 ppGoogle Scholar
  46. Luquet, P. & T. Watanabe. 1986. Interaction ‘nutrition-reproduction’ in fish. Fish Physiol. Biochem 2: 121–129CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Motta, P.J. 1985. Functional morphology of the head of Hawaiian and Mid-Pacific butterflyfishes (Perciformes, Chaetodontidae). Env. Biol. Fish. 13: 253–276CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Motta, P.J. 1988. Functional morphology of the feeding apparatus of ten species of Pacific butterflyfishes (Perciformes, Chaetodontidae): an ecomorphological approach. Env. Biol. Fish. 22: 39–67CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Moyer, J.T. & A. Nakazono. 1978. Protandrous hermaphroditism in six species of the anemone fish genus Amphiprion in Japan. Japan. J. Ichthyol. 25: 25–39Google Scholar
  50. Moyer, J.T. & Y. Yogo. 1982. The lek-like mating system of Halichoeres melanocher (Pisces: Labridae) at Miyake-Jima Japan. Z. Tierpsychol. 60: 209–226Google Scholar
  51. Murphy, G.I. 1968. Pattern in life history and the environment. Amer. Nat. 102: 390–404Google Scholar
  52. Neudecker, S. & P.S. Lobel. 1982. Mating systems of chaetodontid and pomacanthid fishes at St. Croix. Z. Tierpsychol. 59: 299–318Google Scholar
  53. Norris, J.E. 1985. Trophic relationships of piscivorous coral reef fishes from the Northwest Hawaiian Islands, M.S. Thesis, University of Hawaii, Honolulu. 71 ppGoogle Scholar
  54. Orians G.H. 1969. On the evolution of mating systems in birds and mammals. Amer. Nat. 103: 589–603CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Oring, L.W. 1982. Avian mating systems. Avian Biol. 6: 1–92Google Scholar
  56. Pandian, T.J. & E. Vivekanadan. 1985. Energetics of feeding and digestion. pp. 99–124. In: P. Tytler & P. Calou (ed.) Fish Energetics: New Perspectives, John Hopkins University Press, BaltimoreGoogle Scholar
  57. Pitcher, T.J. 1986. Functions of shoaling behaviour in teleosts. pp. 294–337. In: T.J. Pitcher (ed.) The Behaviour of Teleost Fishes, Croom Helm, LondonGoogle Scholar
  58. Ralston, S. 1976. Anomalous growth and reproductive patterns in populations of Chaetodon miliaris (Pisces: Chaetodontidae) from Kaneohe Bay, Oahu, Hawaiian Islands. Pac. Sci. 30; 395–503Google Scholar
  59. Ralston, S. 1981. Aspects of the reproductive biology and feeding ecology of Chaetodon miliaris, a Hawaiian endemic butterflyfish. Env. Biol. Fish. 6: 167–176CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Reese, E.S. 1973. Duration of residence of coral reef fishes on ‘home’ reefs. Copeia 1973: 145–149CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Reese, E.S. 1975. A comparative field study of the social behavior and related ecology of reef fishes of the family Chaetodontidae. Z. Tierpsychol. 37: 37–61Google Scholar
  62. Reese, E.S. 1978. The study of space related behavior in aquatic animals: special problems and selected examples. pp. 347–374. In: E.S. Reese & F.S. Lighter (ed.) Contrasts in Behavior, John Wiley, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  63. Reese, E.S. 1981. Predation on corals by fishes of the family Chaetodontidae: Implications for conservation and management of coral reef ecosystems. Bull. Mar. Sci. 31: 594–604Google Scholar
  64. Reese, E.S. 1989. Orientation behavior of butterflyfishes (family Chaetodontidae) on coral reefs: spatial learning of route specific landmarks and cognitive maps. Env. Biol. Fish. 25: 79–86CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Robertson, D.R. 1983. On the spawning behavior and spawning cycles of eight surgeonfishes (Acanthuridae) from the Indo-Pacific. Env. Biol. Fish. 9: 193–223CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Robertson, D.R. & S.G. Hoffman. 1977. The roles of female mate choice and predation in the mating systems of some tropical labroid fishes. Z. Tierpsychol. 45: 298–320Google Scholar
  67. Robertson, D.R., N.V.C. Polunin & K. Leighton. 1979. The behavioral ecology of three Indian Ocean surgeonfishes (Acanthurus lineatus, A. leucosternon and Zebrasoma scopas): their feeding strategies and social and mating systems. Env. Biol. Fish. 4: 125–170CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Robertson, D.R. & J.M. Sheldon. 1979. Competition and the availability of sleeping sites for a diurnally active Caribbean reef fish. J. Exp. Mar. Biol. Ecol. 40: 285–298CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Sale, P.F. 1980. The ecology of fishes on coral reefs. Oceanogr. Mar. Biol. Ann. Rev. 18: 367–421Google Scholar
  70. Shulman, M.J. 1985. Coral reef fish assemblages: intra- and interspecific competition for shelter sites. Env. Biol. Fish. 13: 81–92CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Steen, R.C. 1978. Butterfly and angelfishes of the world. Volume 1. John Wiley, New York. 352 ppGoogle Scholar
  72. Strathmann, R.R. 1986. What controls the type of larval development? Bull. Mar. Sci. 39: 612–622Google Scholar
  73. Sutton, M. 1985. Patterns of spacing in a coral reef fish in two habitats on the Great Barrier Reef. Anim. Behav. 33: 1322–1337CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Suzuki, K., Y. Tanaka & S. Hioki. 1980. Spawning behavior, eggs, and larvae of the butterflyfish, Chaetodon nippon, in an aquarium. Jap. J. Ichthyol. 26: 334–341Google Scholar
  75. Talbot F.H., B.C. Russel & G.R.V. Anderson. 1978. Coral reef fish communities: unstable, high-diversity systems? Ecol. Monogr. 48: 425–440CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Thresher, R.E. 1977. Ecological determinants of the territorial behavior of reef fishes. Proc. 3rd. Internat. Coral Reef Symp. 1: 551–557Google Scholar
  77. Thresher, R.E. 1984. Reproduction in reef fishes. T.F.H. Publications, Neptune City. 399 ppGoogle Scholar
  78. Tricas, T.C. 1985. The economics of foraging in coral-feeding butterflyfishes of Hawaii. Proc. 5th. Internat. Coral Reef Symp. 5: 409–414Google Scholar
  79. Tricas, T.C. 1986. Life history, foraging ecology, and territorial behavior of the Hawaiian butterflyfish Chaetodon multicinctus. Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Hawaii, Honolulu. 248 ppGoogle Scholar
  80. Walsh, W.J. 1984. Aspects of nocturnal shelter, habitat space, and juvenile recruitment in Hawaiian coral reef fishes. Ph.D. Dissertation. University of Hawaii, Honolulu. 475 ppGoogle Scholar
  81. Warner, R.R. 1980. The coevolution of behavioral and life-history characteristics. pp. 151–188. In: G.W. Barlow & J. Silverberg (ed.) Sociobiology: Beyond Nature/Nurture, Westview Press, BoulderGoogle Scholar
  82. Warner, R. & D.R. Robertson. 1978. Sexual patterns in the labroid fishes of the western Caribbean, I. The wrasses (Labridae). Smithsonian Contrib. Zool. 254: 1–27Google Scholar
  83. Wickler W. & U. Seibt. 1983. Monogamy, an ambiguous concept. pp. 33–50. In: P. Bateson (ed.) Mate Choice, Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  84. Williams, G.C. 1966. Adaptation and natural selection. Princeton University Press, Princeton. 304 ppGoogle Scholar
  85. Wilson, E.O. 1975. Sociobiology: the new synthesis. Belknap-Harvard Press, Cambridge. 697 ppGoogle Scholar
  86. Wittenberger, J.F. & R.L. Tilson. 1980. The evolution of monogamy: hypotheses and tests. Ann. Rev. Ecol. Syst. 11: 197–232CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  87. Wootton, R.J. 1977. Effect of food limitation during the breeding season, on the size, body components and egg production of female sticklebacks (Gasterosteus aculeatus). J. Anim. Ecol. 46: 823–834CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  88. Wootton, R.J. 1985. Energetics of reproduction. pp. 231–254. In: P. Tytler & P. Calow (ed.) Fish Energetics: New Perspectives, John Hopkins University Press, BaltimoreGoogle Scholar
  89. Wrangham, R.W. & D.I. Rubenstein. 1986. Social evolution in birds and mammals. pp. 452–470. In: R.W. Wrangham & D.I. Rubenstein (ed.) Ecological Aspects of Social Evolution, Princeton University Press, PrincetonGoogle Scholar
  90. Yamsonrat, S. 1980. Sex determination of butterflyfishes (Chaetodontidae). M.S. Thesis, University of Hawaii, Honolulu. 15 ppGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas F. Hourigan
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of ZoologyUniversity of HawaiiHonoluluU.S.A.

Personalised recommendations