Male gobies `fickle over mates`

Last Updated: Saturday, November 13, 2010 - 19:07

Washington: Scientists claim to have discovered that male goby fish are surprisingly strategic when it comes to courtship, adapting their tactics depending on the frequency of their contact with females.
A new study by Monash University has found that should the male fish find himself infrequently in contact with females, it will pursue any he finds with zeal, regardless of
size, `Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology` journal reported.

Lead scientist Dr Bob Wong said the research showed that when males encountered females more frequently, the males were far more discriminating about how much effort they put into courting larger females over others.

"By contrast, males will court females vigorously irrespective of her attractiveness if passing females are few and far between," Dr Wong said.

Native to the springs and waterholes of the arid regions surrounding Lake Eyre, the desert goby is an unusual species.

Dr Wong said the male goby fish establish nests under rocks, try to attract passing females using colourful courtship displays and ultimately become the sole guardians of
the eggs.

"Given this heavy investment in reproduction, males attempt to maximise their returns through higher egg yields. These findings are important because, for a long time, females
were typically regarded as the more discerning sex when it comes to choosing a potential mate.

"Here, we show that males, too, can be highly picky and are much more tactical in whom they choose to court," Dr Wong said.

PTI




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