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1 January 2011 Mate Sampling in a Natural Population of Pecos Gambusia, Gambusia nobilis
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Abstract

Much research has been conducted on the mating systems of poeciliid fish in aquaria; however, there are fewer studies that examine mate sampling of these fish in the wild. In general, male poeciliids are characterized as being unselective in their mate choices and will attempt to copulate with seemingly all available females. Females are selective, copulate infrequently, and are often pursued by “ardent” males who may force copulations. To avoid male harassment, females in aquaria will often shelter from males among other females in shoals. Here, we examined the mate-sampling behaviors of male and female Pecos gambusia Gambusia nobilis by following individuals swimming in an outflow pool of Diamond Y Spring in southwestern Texas. In most cases, a male approached a solitary female, followed her briefly, and then left for no apparent reason. Approaching a number of females increased the likelihood that the male would follow one, and the longer a male followed a female, the more likely he was to copulate with her. As females were larger and faster than males, they could avoid males by swimming away from them. We found no evidence of the persistent males that harass seemingly unreceptive females as seen under aquarium conditions, nor did we see females join a shoal to stop pursuit by males. However, the activity of one male following a female did appear to attract other males who would compete to follow and attempt copulation. This competition might ensure that only superior males gain reproductive opportunities.

© 2010
John K. Leiser, Kimberly Little, and Murray Itzkowitz "Mate Sampling in a Natural Population of Pecos Gambusia, Gambusia nobilis," Western North American Naturalist 70(4), 483-489, (1 January 2011). https://doi.org/10.3398/064.070.0408
Received: 26 October 2009; Accepted: 1 August 2010; Published: 1 January 2011
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