Differential attack by a cichlid fish on resident and non-resident fish of another cichlid species

in Behaviour
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An algivorous cichlid, Variabilichromis moorii( Vm), defends permanent territories in Lake Tanganyika, Africa. A zoobenthivorous cichlid, Neolamprologus mustax( Nm), spends 60% of daylight hours foraging in Vmterritories, from which other zoobenthivorous fishes are chased out and consequently which are much richer in prey animals than areas outside of Vmterritories. We conducted a field experiment to examine whether Nmresidents and non-residents received different degrees of attacks from Vm. Nmfish were caught in their territories, released at a point distant from these territories, and followed to observe interactions with Vmfish. The frequency of attacks received by the displaced Nmfish was greater than attacks received by Nmresidents, indicating that Nmresidents had easier access to Vmterritories than non-residents did. A possible mechanism for this is reduced aggression of Vmtowards Nmresidents, as a result of the ‘dear enemy’ effect that has been reported in territorial contests between rivals. An alternative mechanism is that tolerance towards Nmdiffers among Vmfish and Nmresidents selectively visit more tolerant Vmfish due to previous experience while non-residents randomly approach both tolerant and hostile Vmfish. The ability of Vmto discriminate between Nmresidents and non-residents is essential to the former mechanism but not to the latter. To more specifically examine which mechanism works in the VmNmcommensal system, we will need to follow individually identified Vmfish interacting with Nmresidents and non-residents.

Differential attack by a cichlid fish on resident and non-resident fish of another cichlid species

in Behaviour



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