Environmental Biology of Fishes

, Volume 98, Issue 1, pp 301–306 | Cite as

The relationship between breeding coloration and mating success in male pygmy sculpin (Cottus paulus Williams)

  • N. C. Kierl
  • C. E. Johnston


Carotenoid-based coloration is well studied in birds and fishes because carotenoid pigments must be acquired from the diet, and therefore it may be used as an honest signal of condition. Females may select males based on the color and intensity of the carotenoid pigments found in a high quality male. The orange patches on the pectoral fins and body of male Pygmy Sculpin (Cottus paulus) differ in aspects of coloration between successful and unsuccessful males (defined as nest holders who either obtain egg clutches or not); however, these males do not differ in length or condition. Within successful males, condition was correlated with mating success (average eggs gained and average egg clutches gained) but coloration was not. However, aspects of coloration were correlated with male condition. Female Pygmy Sculpin seem to prefer males with more intense coloration and that are in good condition, which may correlate with numerous benefits such as effective brood defense, decreased filial cannibalism and fungal infections.


Mate choice Cottidae Imperiled species Spawning 



The authors would like to thank the staff at the Paul B. Krebs Treatment Plant and Anniston Water Works and Sewer Board for their support and for allowing access. The authors would also like to thank D. Holt and P. Speares for helping create the acoustic set-up as well as two reviewers for valuable comments to this manuscript. This work was funded in part by a Section 6 grant from the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, and covered by Auburn University animal welfare protocol number 2011–2016.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Fish Biodiversity Lab, Department of FisheriesAuburn UniversityAuburnUSA

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