Aggressive male mating behavior depends on female maturity in Octopus bimaculoides
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This laboratory study examined the combined effects of male and female behaviors on the outcome of mating encounters in Octopus bimaculoides. We found that male–male competition for mating opportunities depends on female maturity; the presence of immature females elicited significantly higher levels of aggression between competing males. We conclude that males are able to assess the reproductive status of females. The study also found that immature and mature females resisted male mating attempts to a similar extent but that males that showed more aggression toward male competitors were able to spend more time in contact with females. We suggest that the lack of prominent visual displays in these mating trials indicates the importance of chemical cues in Octopus mating systems, as has been demonstrated for other cephalopods. This study contributes to the growing research on cephalopod mating systems and in particular shows that Octopus mating dynamics may be more behaviorally complex than initially assumed.
KeywordsMature Female Multiple Paternity Immature Female Male Aggression Sperm Transfer
We thank Jean Boal for her insightful comments regarding the research, Janet Voight and Roger Hanlon for sharing their extensive knowledge of Octopus behavior, and Karin Akre and Shinnosuke Nakayama for their help in the laboratory. Contribution 1677 of the University of Texas Marine Science Institute.
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