Behavioral ecology of the sailfin blenny, Emblemaria pandionis (Pisces, Chaenopsidae), in the Caribbean off Belize. American Museum novitates ; no. 3232

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New York, NY : American Museum of Natural History
"The sailfin blenny, Emblemaria pandionis, is a shallow-water, colony-dwelling shore fish that ranges from Florida to South America. Both sexes occupy holes in coral rubble fragments. Females have no fixed homes, but breeding males guard shelter cavities in which eggs are deposited by one or more females. This species is sexually dimorphic; females are cryptically colored and have low dorsal fins, whereas males have much higher spinous dorsal fins and paddle-shaped pelvic fins and are very dark in color when guarding shelters. During daylight hours, males periodically emerge from their shelter cavities and raise and lower their large dorsal fins several times in quick succession. A male may complete more than 1100 such flagging episodes in a single day. Flagging is most intense early in the morning and late in the afternoon and often is highly synchronized among several males, but the signals do not appear to be answered directly by a particular nearby male. However, the likelihood that flagging by a particular male will be followed by flagging by a specific other male is statistically significant. During presentation experiments, males showed a strong flagging response to females but only weak or no responses to other species. Courtship signals, triggered by the approach of a female, differ markedly from routine crepuscular flagging in that they are a series of unevenly spaced fin lifts while the male remains close to the bottom. Males also perform an aggressive display, and males placed close to each other may engage in combat. Our objective was to determine the biological significance of the flagging behavior of the sailfin blenny. We postulate that flagging episodes are signals that attract conspecifics of both sexes, whereas aggressive displays and combat maintain the distances between males. The benefits of colonial aggregations include a ready supply of mates and possible attraction of recruits to a suitable habitat. Cyclical flagging, as distinct from courtship signaling, has not been reported for other chaenopsids"--P. 2-3.
40 p. : ill. ; 26 cm.
Includes bibliographical references (p. 39-40).