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Male procurement of breeding site is valued over male size by monogamous female convict cichlids (Amatitlania nigrofasciata)


In many monogamous species, sexual selection often occurs through female mate choice, which is usually based on male characteristics such as size. However, the presence of a breeding site also might be equally or more valued than male size for substrate brooders. This study investigated the importance of a large mate versus the presence of a breeding site in the monogamous convict cichlid (Amatitlania siquia). If breeding sites are more valued than male size, then we predict that females will choose the male with breeding site regardless of his size. To test our hypothesis, males were confined to separate compartments with only one male receiving a breeding site, but females swam freely. In the experimental groups, one male was larger than the other, but both males were equal in size for the control group. Females significantly preferred small males with a breeding site more often than large males without a breeding site; thus, the presence of a breeding site seems to be more valued than male size by female convict cichlids.

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We would like to thank the Metropolitan State University of Denver’s letters, arts, and sciences Dean’s office for help funding this research. We would also like to thank the other undergraduate students that were involved in helping at some point on this project, which were A. Black, S. Scott, D. Ferber, J. Pluta, L. Roth, L. McQuigg, A. Keiswetter, J. Desoto, C. Chan, A. McHenry, N. McVay-Bartnes, M. Kyer, J. Quinn, K. Setnor, L. McHenry, K. Guittar, and S. Hamilton.

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Correspondence to Jennifer Gagliardi-Seeley.

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Gagliardi-Seeley, J., Bakker, A., Burke, M. et al. Male procurement of breeding site is valued over male size by monogamous female convict cichlids (Amatitlania nigrofasciata). J Ethol 39, 259–263 (2021).

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  • Convict cichlids
  • Amatitlania siquia
  • Mate preference
  • Sexual selection
  • Substrate brooders