University of Oulu

Topi K. Lehtonen, Bob B.M. Wong, Male phenotype and resource type influence nesting behaviour in a fish, Animal Behaviour, Volume 166, 2020, Pages 289-296, ISSN 0003-3472,

Male phenotype and resource type influence nesting behaviour in a fish

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Author: Lehtonen, Topi K.1,2,3; Wong, Bob B. M.2,3
Organizations: 1Ecology and Genetics Research Unit, Faculty of Science, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
2School of Biological Sciences, Monash University, Victoria, Australia
3Tvärminne Zoological Station, University of Helsinki, Hanko, Finland
Format: article
Version: accepted version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.5 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Elsevier, 2020
Publish Date: 2022-07-09


In many brood-rearing species, suitable nesting resources are needed for nest construction. Here, we used males of a small marine fish, the sand goby, Pomatoschistus minutus, to study the associations between the nest owner’s phenotype (i.e. body size), the characteristics of the nesting resource used for nest construction (i.e. resource size and shape) and nest-building behaviour (i.e. eagerness to build a nest and extent of nest elaboration). We found that male body size was associated with nesting resource size and resource architecture in the field, with the smallest males occupying small flat resources and the biggest males occupying large arched resources. In the laboratory, the type of resource occupied in the field had a limited effect on the level of nest elaboration, but not on other nesting behaviours. Large body size, in turn, was associated with preference for larger resources and, in some circumstances, also the level of nest elaboration. Body size did not affect the eagerness to initiate nest building. Furthermore, males chose arched nesting resources more often than those that were flat, and this preference was also reflected under a ’no-choice’ scenario, based on the time taken for males to initiate nest building. Overall, the results indicate that the importance of male size in nest building is context dependent, while nesting behaviours can also be affected by resource size, resource architecture and, under some circumstances, the nest builder’s experience with resource use.

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Series: Animal behaviour
ISSN: 0003-3472
ISSN-E: 1095-8282
ISSN-L: 0003-3472
Volume: 166
Pages: 289 - 296
DOI: 10.1016/j.anbehav.2020.06.001
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
Funding: We thank the staff of Tvärminne Zoological Station for logistic assistance, the School of Biological Sciences at Monash University for financial support and two anonymous referees for their helpful comments.
Copyright information: © 2020 The Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license