Is male mate choice and female interaction important in pair bond formation in a monogamous, bi-parental convict cichlid fish (Amatitalania nigrofasciatus)?

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Is male mate choice and female interaction important in pair bond formation in a monogamous, bi-parental convict cichlid fish (Amatitalania nigrofasciatus)?
Pletcher, Jessica
Gonzalez, Blanca
Rogers, Caroline
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Denver, CO
Metropolitan State University of Denver
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Conference Papers ( sobekcm )


Collected for Auraria Institutional Repository by the Self-Submittal tool. Submitted by Matthew Mariner.
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Faculty mentor: Jennifer Gagliardi Seeley
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Major: Biology

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Introduction Much of previous research supports that the convict cichlid is a monogamous and biparental species. There is, however, other research to suggest that some males are bigamous, fertilizing and raising two broods (Keenleyside, 1985). Females, on the other hand, appear to remain monogamous. In biparental species, pair bond formation and mate choice are important aspects of reproductive success (Leese, 2012). Most sexual selection research focuses on female mate choice, but male mate choice may be just as important in pair bond formation for biparental species. In our previous experiment, we found that pair bond formation increased when two females were present in the tank (Gagliardi Seeley, submitted), which could have been observed for two reasons: 1) Male was given a choice between two females; 2) Females were allowed to interact with each other. Currently, we are investigating whether male mate choice and/or female interaction increase pair bond formation rates. Predictions: P1: If pair bond formation depends on male mate choice and/or female interaction, then pair bond formation success will differ based on the treatment group. P2: Males would exhibit more courtship, nesting, and time spent in the flower pot in the groups where female interaction occurred. Discussion Our prediction that female interaction would influence pair bond formation was supported by the observational data. There was a significant difference in pair bond formation in the two female interaction groups compared to the control and no female interaction groups. Also, within each of the two female interaction groups, pair bonds occurred significantly more times than not. This in male mate choice. Keenleyside (1985) found that 12 out of 20 males exhibited bigamous behavior, including fertilizing eggs and sharing parental duties with both females. Our research supports that males may attempt to secure a pair bond with a second female. We found a trend that the bigamous males spent more time courting the unpaired female, while still maintaining the pre existing pair bond by spending more time in the nest with the initially chosen female. Increasing the sample size may bring significance to this trend. There are different advantages to monogamy and bigamy; however, it is suggested that bigamous (Keenleyside, 1985). One limitation of the current study is that the fish were physically separated by the plastic partitions, and may not have felt they had sufficient information to choose a mate. Second, we only viewed day 21 videos for the males whom we determined had formed a pair bond. Also, our sample sizes were small for the video data. Future direction for this project will be to continue analyzing behaviors from video recordings on day 21, as well as analyzing the videos from days 1, 7, and 14. Methods The 4 treatment groups: Control: one female; one male . Group 1: two females; one male ; no female interaction. Group 2: two females; one male ; female interaction without male observing. Group 3: two females; one male ; female interaction with male observing . The larger female was 10 mm (+/ 5%) shorter in total length than the male. The smaller female was 20 mm (+/ 5%) shorter in total length than the male. A 55 gallon tank was divided into six compartments, which each compartment had half of a terracotta flowerpot to create a breeding site. The females were confined to the two rear corner compartments, unable to see each other, but the male could visit all three front compartments through 7.5 cm holes cut through the opaque dividers. Interactions were completed in the neutral compartment for 15 minutes and then the two females were placed into smaller aquariums next to each other in the neutral zone for a 4 hour acclimation period. The male swam freely to be able to observe the females side by side (Gagliardi Seeley et al. 2009). After the acclimation period the females were separated into their respective compartments. Courtship behaviors were recorded for 15 minutes per day on days 1, 7, 14, and 21 of the experiment. We analyzed day 21 videos for all four conditions and recorded the amount of time spent exhibiting courtship and the time they spent with each female in their respective flower pots. Observations were recorded (date, time, and male location) 5 times a day, at least one hour apart, for 21 days. Chi square analysis was used on the observational data to was determined to exist if Chi square showed a statistically higher frequency with one of the females. We used the Mann Whitney U Test for the difference in courtship with paired females between monogamous and bigamous male and Wilcoxon Signed Rank test for the differences in courtship between paired and unpaired females by bigamous males. We used an independent T test for the difference in time spent in the flowerpot with paired female between monogamous and bigamous male and a related samples T test for the difference in the time spent in the flowerpot between paired and unpaired females by bigamous males. Results Between treatment groups, there was a significant difference in pair bond formation ( = 9.9696, df=3, p=0.018827). Pair bond formations did not occur significantly more often in the control group ( X 2 =0.048, df=1, p=0.8273, n=21) or the no female interaction treatment group ( 2 =0.429, df=1, p=0.5127, n=21). Pair bond formation did occur significantly more often when females interacted without male observing ( 2 =3.857, df=1, p=0.0495, n=21) and when males observed female interaction ( 2 =10.714, df=1, p=0.0011, n=21). Figure 1: Experimental setup Literature cited Beeching , S.C. and Hopp , A.B. 1999. Male mate preference and size assortative pairing in the convict cichlid. Journal of Fish Biology. 55: 1001 1008. Keenleyside, M.H.A. 1985. Bigamy and mate choice in the biparental cichlid fish Cichlasoma nigrofasciatum . Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology . 17(3): 285 290. Leese, J. 2012. Sex difference in the function of pair bonding in the convict cichlid. Male Convict Cichlid. Animal Behavior . 83(5): 1187 1193. Santangelo, N. and Itzkowitz , M. 2006. How does competition influence mate choice decisions for males and females in the monogamous convict cichlid fish, Archocentrus nigrofasciatus ? Behavior . 143(5): 619 642. Tomaszycki , M. L. and Adkins Regans , E., 2005. Experimental alteration of male song quality and output affects female mate choice and pair bond formation in ze bra finches. Animal Behavior . 70: 785 794. Weber, P.G. and Weber, S.P. 1975. The effect of female color, size, dominance and early experience upon mate selection in mal e convict cichlids, Cichlasoma nigrofasciatum Gunther ( pisces , cichlidae ). Behaviour . 56(1 2): 116 135. Acknowledgments We thank the Metropolitan State University of Denver Biology Department for the use of their facilities and funding. In addit ion , we would also like to thank the MSU Denver Undergraduate Research Program for help with this project and all the student re sea rchers for their help with data collection. Abstract Previous research suggests that female interaction may play an important role in pair bond formation. Here we determine if giving males a choice between two females and/or female interaction affects pair bond formation. We predicted that pair bond formation would increase when two females are present and when females interact in competitive displays. This experiment contains one control (one male and one female), and three experimental groups with two females and one male: 1) No female interaction; 2) Female interaction without male observation; and 3) Female interaction with male observation. After female interaction was completed in the two of the experimental groups, all groups had a 4 hour acclimation period followed by a 21 day preference period. During the preference period, 5 daily observations were taken on male location and tanks were videotaped for courtship behavior. Daily observations suggest pair formation occurred more often in the treatment groups with female interaction, both with and without male observation. We analyzed day 21 video and found that approximately half of the males are showing monogamy, and the other half are showing bigamous behavior. In all three treatment groups, we observed both monogamous males that spent time in the flowerpot with only their paired female and bigamous males that spent time with both females in their respective flowerpots and/or courted both females. Since there was no significant difference between treatment groups for courtship (F=0.471, df=3, p =0.705) and time spent in flower pot (F=2.014, df=3, p =0.131), these data were combined. There was no significant difference in courtship between monogamous males ( =2.96 +/ 1.67) and bigamous males ( =3.71 +/ 2.80) with the paired female (z=0.044, n=8, n=10, p=0.9681). There was no significant difference in courtship between the paired females ( =3.71 +/ 2.80) and unpaired females ( =20.33 +/ 6.96) by the bigamous males (z=1.8857, n=10, p = 0.059). There was no significant difference in time spent in the flowerpot between monogamous males ( =271.86 +/ 99.30) and bigamous males ( =96.31 +/ 33.74) with the paired female (T=1.652, n=8, n=10, p=.118). There was no significant difference in courtship between the paired females ( =96.31 +/ 33.74) and unpaired females ( =88.84 +/ 24.7) by the bigamous males (T=0.178, n=10, p = 0.862). 11 9 15 18 10 12 6 3 CONTROL NO FEMALE INTERACTION FEMALE INTERACTION FEMALE INTERACTION W/ MALE OBSERVING Number of Pairs Pair Bond Formation Pairbond formation No Pairbond formation 2 3 3 3 4 3 GROUP 1 GROUP 2 GROUP 3 Number of Males Monogamous Vs Bigamous (Based on Time Spent in Flowerpot) Monogamous Bigamous 2.96 3.71 0 20.33 MONOGAMOUS BIGAMOUS Mean Time Spent (S) Time Exhibiting Courtship Paired Female Unpaired Female 271.86 96.31 0 88.84 MONOGAMOUS BIGAMOUS Mean Time Spent (S) Time in Flowerpot with Female Paired Female Unpaired Female