Marine Biology

, Volume 100, Issue 4, pp 431–437 | Cite as

Differences between the reproductive biologies of Tripterygion tripteronotus and T. delaisi (Pisces, Perciformes, Tripterygiidae): the adaptive significance of an alternative mating strategy and a red instead of a yellow nuptial colour

  • J. De Jonge
  • J. J. Videler


This paper contributes to the understanding of the evolution of alternative mating strategies by comparing morphological, ecological and ethological aspects of the reproductive systems of two closely related fish species studied near the marine biological station “STARESO” at Calvi, Corsica, between March 1982 and May 1985. The Mediterranean breeding areas of Tripterygion tripteronotus and T. delaisi partly overlap. The red territorial males of T. tripteronotus defend territories in the upper 6 m of the water column and the yellow territorial males of T. delaisi breed between a depth of 3 and 40 m. Small male T. tripteronotus possess relatively large gonads exhibit “sneaking” behaviour, while small male T. delaisi do not participate in mating. T. tripteronotus expends more effort in reproduction than T. delaisi. This is expressed in larger gonads, a higher density of and stronger competition for nest sites, and a longer breeding season and shorter spawning bouts with a higher fertilization rate in the former species. We hypothesize that the sneaking strategy of non-territorial male T. tripteronotus evolved in response to competition for nest sites in the shallow, upper water layers, which are limited in depth, but contain a good food supply. The depth restriction is imposed by the light-reflecting properties of the red territorial males. We suggest that the evolution of T. tripteronotus began with the appearance of a red morph of T. delaisi after the invasion of this latter species into the tideless Mediterranean Sea.


Nest Site Fertilization Rate High Fertilization Small Male Depth Restriction 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. De Jonge
    • 1
  • J. J. Videler
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Marine BiologyUniversity of GroningenHarenThe Netherlands

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