Interactions Between Inter- and Intrasexually Selected Behaviors in the Beaugregory Damselfish (Stegastes leucostictus)

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There is a trade-off between mutually incompatible behaviors involved in conspecific aggression and courtship by territorial male beaugregory damselfish (Stegastes leucostictus). This trade-off may be variable based on the proximity of each stimulus. We first tested whether presenting male and female conspecific stimuli at varying distances from the breeding site influenced the territorial male’s behavioral response by placing a single female or a single male in a clear plastic bottle 1 m or 2 m from the breeding site of the focal male. We found that the focal males responded similarly to females at either distance while they decreased their response to males at the greater distance. To test how distance influences the tradeoff between inter- and intrasexually selected behaviors, we simultaneously placed bottled males and females near a male’s breeding site. Reducing the proximity of one stimulus resulted in an increased response to the other stimulus. We suggest that the trade-off between behaviors is variable and show that distance plays a role in territorial males’ behavioral response to multiple conspecific stimuli.


Gumm, J. M., van Breukelen, N. A., Draud, M., & Itzkowitz, M. (2010). Interactions between inter-and intrasexually selected behaviors in the beaugregory damselfish (Stegastes leucostictus). Ethology Ecology & Evolution, 22(2), 133-142.

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