Variance in reproductive success and the opportunity for selection in a serially monogamous species: simulations of the mating system of Tropheus (Teleostei: Cichlidae)

  • Kristina M. Sefc
Conference paper
Part of the Developments in Hydrobiology book series (DIHY, volume 205)


Sexual selection is believed to play a major role in speciation processes of cichlid fishes in the East African Great Lakes, in particular Lakes Malawi and Victoria, by driving diversification in male nuptial coloration. In Lake Tanganyika, a high rate of color pattern diversification is found in the genus Tropheus, where more than 100, mostly allopatric, color morphs have been described. Whether color pattern differentiation in Tropheus could follow from sexual selection as well, has not yet been conclusively shown. Unlike typical sexually selected species, Tropheus are sexually monomorphic, establish temporary pair bonds and spawn monogamously. Variance in mating success among individuals would still allow for sexual selection, but due to their high population census sizes, parentage data from natural populations are difficult to obtain. Simulations designed according to existing data on mating behavior in Tropheus suggested that variance in male reproductive success can be substantial and lead to levels of opportunity for selection, which are similar to values estimated, for example, from natural populations of sexually dimorphic songbirds. Variance in male success was mostly affected by the way females perceived and reacted to differences between males, and to a lesser extent by the duration of components of the reproductive cycles of males and females. These results indicate that future work on the importance of sexual selection in Tropheus should concentrate on mate choice cues and female mate choice behavior, but does not depend critically on the acquisition of more detailed life history data.


Sexual selection Mating success Standardized variance in reproductive success Monogamy Speciation Mate choice 


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kristina M. Sefc
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of ZoologyKarl-Franzens University of GrazGrazAustria

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