Mating behavior and rapid concealing of nuptial coloration in males of the Fishgod Blenny Malacoctenus ebisui (Teleostei: Blenniiformes)
Courting males often face the trade-off of attracting the attention of both females and predators. Rapid color change, a relatively simple solution to this dilemma, is described for nuptial males of the Fishgod Blenny Malacoctenus ebisui (Teleostei: Blenniiformes) from direct observations at three rocky reefs in the Mexican Pacific. Nuptial males showed three dark bars on a white background that covered the anterior part of the body, and three dark bars posteriorly forming a solid dark patch along the midline. The head was black with a prominent white area on the lower portion of the iris of each eye, two white patches on the upper jaw, and one central white patch on the lower jaw. When an intensely colored male was disturbed the white patches on the eyes quickly disappeared, while the other white markings became muted apparently by rapid expansion of melanophores. This relatively simple system permits males of the Fishgod Blenny to rapidly suppress their conspicuous coloration in response to perceived threats. Mating behavior of the Fishgod Blenny observed at Bahia Chamela is similar to that reported for other labrisomid blennies, with males repeatedly nudging the side of the female and both sexes alternately performing quivering movements.
KeywordsReef fish Color patterns Mating behavior Trade-offs Safety assurance hypothesis Tropical eastern Pacific
We thank Marimar Ponce for providing us the photos of nuptial male from Marietas and the Whiteley Center, Friday Harbor Laboratories and UCSD Academic Senate for support to PAH. Thanks to anonymous reviewers for comments and suggestions that improved the manuscript. All procedures performed were in accordance with the ethical standards as approved in UCSD protocol S02118.
- Abel ER (1993) Colouration phenomena of Mediterranean blennies (Pisces, Benniidae). PSZNI Mar Ecol 14:291–312. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1439-0485.1993.tb00002.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Endler JA (1986) Defense against predators. In: Feder ME, Lauder GV (eds) predator-prey relationships. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, pp 109–134Google Scholar
- Fishelson L (1975) Observations on behaviour of the fish Meiacanthus nigrolineatus Smith-Vaniz (Blenniidae) in nature (Red Sea) and in captivity. Aust J Mar Freshwat Res 26:329–341. https://doi.org/10.1071/MF9750329
- Hastings PA, Petersen CW (2010) Parental care, oviposition sites and mating systems of blennioid fishes. In: Cole KS (ed) Reproduction in marine fishes: evolutionary patterns and innovations. University of California Press, Berkeley, pp 91–116Google Scholar
- Human P, DeLoach N (2004) Reef fish identification. Baja to Panama. New World Publications Inc, Jacksonville, FloridaGoogle Scholar
- Love MS, Passarelli JK, Cantrell B, Hastings PA (2016) The largemouth blenny, Labrisomus xanti, new to the California marine fauna with a list of and key to the species of Labrisomidae, Clinidae, and Chaenopsidae found in California waters. Bull South Calif Acad Sci 115:191–197. https://doi.org/10.3160/0038-3872-115.3.191 Google Scholar
- Robertson DR, Allen GR (2015) Shorefishes of the tropical eastern Pacific: online information system. Version 2.0 Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Balboa, Panamá. http://biogeodb.stri.si.edu/sftep/en/pages. Accessed 15 Jan 2016
- Sazima I, Gasparini JL, Moura RL (2002) Labrisomus cricota, a new scaled blenny from the coast of Brazil (Perciformes: Labrisomidae). Aqua 5:127–132.Google Scholar
- Smith CL, Tyler JC, Andreyko H, Tyler DM (1998) Behavioral ecology of the sailfin blenny, Emblemaria pandionis (Pisces: Chaenopsidae), in the Caribbean off Belize. Am Mus Novit 3232:1–40Google Scholar
- Springer VG (1959) Systematics and zoogeography of the clinid fishes of the subtribe Labrisomini Hubbs. Publ Inst Mar Sci, University Texas 5: 417–492Google Scholar
- Thomson DA, Findley LT, Kerstitch AN (2000) Reef fishes of the Sea of Cortez. University of Texas Press, AustinGoogle Scholar