TitleExperimental analysis of monogamy in the Caribbean cleaner goby, Gobiosoma evelynae
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2003
AuthorsHarding, JA, Almany, GR, Houck, L, Hixon, MA
JournalAnimal Behaviour
Type of ArticleJournal Article

To investigate factors promoting monogamy, we studied the reproductive behaviour and ecology of the monogamous Caribbean cleaner goby at two sites near St Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands. We assessed mate fidelity and the amount of time required to acquire a new mate in experimentally widowed males and females. We also measured behavioural responses of pair members and single females to experimentally introduced conspecific intruders of both sexes. Finally, we evaluated the distribution of suitable habitat relative to existing goby territories. We found that pairs often separated due to males abandoning females and moving to a new territory, that most widowed fish soon acquired a new mate, and that there was strong aggression towards large same-sex intruders. We also found an abundance of suitable, unoccupied habitat. We conclude that pairs are maintained by intrasexual aggression that is related to both mate availability and other resources, such as high-quality, food-rich cleaning stations. Combined with observations of frequent pair separation, interterritory male movement, and relatively rapid remating by both sexes, these results suggest a complex mating system that is best classified as serial monogamy. (C) 2003 Published by Elsevier Science Ltd on behalf of The Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour.

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