Nest association in fishes: evidence for mutualism

Abstract

Nest association, or the habit of spawning in the nest of another species, is a widespread reproductive strategy among North American fishes, especially minnows. The hosts of nest associates include sunfishes and nest-building minnows. Previous experiments demonstrated that nest associates benefited from the parental care of hosts. The purpose of this study was to determine the effect of nest associates on hosts, and thereby characterize the relationship as parasitic, mutualistic or commensal. Since hosts with associates had higher reproductive success than those without associates in this experiment, I characterize nest association as a mutualistic relationship, at least in some systems. The dilution effect is the proposed mechanism responsible for the higher reproductive success of hosts with associates.

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Communicated by F. Trillmich

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Johnston, C.E. Nest association in fishes: evidence for mutualism. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 35, 379–383 (1994). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00165839

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Key words

  • Spawning
  • Symbiosis
  • Minnows
  • Sunfishes
  • Dilution effect