| More

Nest-mediated parental care in a marine fish: Are large-scale nesting habitats selected and do these habitats respond to small-scale requirements?

Views: 379 Downloads: 263


Fishes have evolved various reproductive strategies including mechanisms that involve parental care and demersal eggs laid into nests. Symphodus ocellatus has a seasonal reproduction period during which large, dominant males become territorial and build nests with fragments of algae, where they attract females to spawn and provide care to the developing eggs. Based on the hypothesis that the S. ocellatus males choose the reproductive habitat based on some characteristics of the substrate, here we assessed whether, on a coastal area scale, the distribution of this species changes during the reproductive period because of the selection of some suitable sites or substrates, and whether the nesting microhabitat used by this species responding to certain requirements in relation to different characteristics. From April to September 2010, at four locations and on three substrate types, the fish were counted in three periods related to different stages of reproduction. Furthermore, several physical and biological variables have been recorded around numerous nests to select those with more recurrence. We found that S. ocellatus prefers to live on rocky substrates populated by photophilic algae, regardless of the phases of the reproductive cycle. We identified depth (1.7–3.2 m), the presence of a hole, a 10–20 cm algal canopy, and high algal coverage of Dyctiotales as nest requirements. S. ocellatus is mostly distributed in coastal sites sheltered from the action of waves. This allows the construction and maintenance of nests and the possibility to remain in a water temperature range similar to the reproductive physiological constraints.


Nest-building; Labridae; habitat selection; habitat requirement; Symphodus ocellatus.

Full Text:



Alexander, H.S., 1932. Pothole erosion. Journal of Geology, 40, (4), 305-337.

Alonzo, S.H., 2008. Female mate choice copying affects sexual selection in wild populations of the ocellated wrasse. Animal Behaviour, 75, 1715-1723.

Alonzo, H.S., Heckman, K.L., 2010. The unexpected but understandable dynamics of mating, paternity and paternal care in the ocellated wrasse. Proceedings of the Royal Society, Series B, 277, 115-122.

Alonzo, S.H., Warner, R.R., 2000. Dynamic games and field experiments examining intra- and inter-sexual conflict: explaining counter-intuitive mating behavior in a Mediterranean wrasse, Symphodus ocellatus. Behavioral Ecology, 11, 56-70.

Alonzo, S.H., Taborsky, M., Wirtz, P., 2000. Male alternative reproductive behaviours in a Mediterranean wrasse, Symphodus ocellatus: Evidence from otoliths for multiple life-history pathways. Evolutionary Ecology Research, 2, 997-1007.

Andersson, M.B., 1994. Sexual selection. Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey, 531pp.

Balon, E.K., 1975. Reproductive guilds of fishes, a proposal and definition. Journal of the Fisheries Board of Canada, 32, 821-864.

Bentivegna, F., Benedetto, F., 1989. Gonochorism and seasonal variations in the gonads of the labrid Symphodus (Crenilabrus) ocellatus (Forsskål). Journal of Fish Biology, 34 (3), 343-348.

Boudouresque, C.F., 1984. Groupes ecologiques d'algues marines et phytocenoses benthiques en Méditerranée nord occidentale: une revue. Giornale Botanico Italiano, 118 (2), 7-42.

Budaev, S.V., 1997. Alternative styles in the European wrasse, Symphodus ocellatus: boldness-related schooling tendency. Environmental Biology of Fishes, 49 (1), 71-78.

Candolin,U., Voigt, H.R., 2001. Correlation between male size and territory quality: consequence of male competition or predation susceptibility? Oikos, 95 (2), 225-230.

Candolin, U., Salesto, T., 2006. Effects of increased vegetation cover on nesting behavior of sticklebacks (Gasterosteus aculeatus). Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 59, 689-693.

D’Anna, G., Lipari, R., Badalamenti, F., Cuttitta, A., 1999. Questions arising from the use of visual census in natural and artificial habitats. Naturalista Siciliano, 23, 187-204.

De Girolamo, M., Mazzoldi, C., 2001. The application of visual census on Mediterranean rocky habitats. Marine Environmental Research, 51 (1), 1-16.

Francour, P., 1997. Fish assemblages of Posidonia oceanica beds at Port‐Cros (France, NW Mediterranean): assessment of composition and long‐term fluctuations by visual census. Marine Ecology, 18 (2), 157-173.

García-Rubies, A., Macpherson, E., 1995. Substrate use and temporal pattern of recruitment in juvenile fishes of the Mediterranean littoral. Marine biology, 124 (1), 35-42.

Giaccone, G., Colonna, P., Graziano, C., Mannino, A.M., Suriano, C. et al., 1985. Evoluzione e distribuzione della vegetazione marina nei tre golfi della provincia di Palermo (Sicilia). Bollettino dell’Accademia Gioenia di Scienze Naturali 18 (326), 821-828.

Guidetti, P., 2000. Differences among fish assemblages associated with nearshore Posidonia oceanica seagrass beds, rocky–algal reefs and unvegetated sand habitats in the Adriatic Sea. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 50 (4), 515-529.

Guidetti, P., Bussotti, S., 2002. Effects of seagrass canopy removal on fish in shallow Mediterranean seagrass (Cymodocea nodosa and Zostera noltii) meadows: a local-scale approach. Marine Biology, 140 (3), 445-453.

Kraak, S.B.M., Bakker, T.C.M., Hočevar, S., 2000, Stickleback males, especially large and red ones, are more likely to nest concealed in macrophytes. Behaviour, 137, 907-919.

Lejeune, P., 1985. Le comportement social des Labridés méditerranéens : Etude écoéthologique des comportements reproducteurs et sociaux des Labridés méditerranéens des genres Symphodus Rafinesque, 1810, et Coris Lacepede, 1802. Cahiers d’Ethologie Appliquée, 5, 1-208.

Letourneur, Y., Ruitton, S., Sartoretto, S., 2003. Environmental and benthic habitat factors structuring the spatial distribution of a summer infralittoral fish assemblage in the north-western Mediterranean Sea. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the UK, 83 (01), 193-204.

Lipej, L., Orlando-Bonaca M., Ozebek, B., Dulčić, J., 2009, Nest characteristics of three labrid species in the Gulf of Trieste (northern Adriatic Sea). Acta Adriatica, 50 (2),139-150.

Mannino, A.M., Mancuso, F.P., Toccaceli, M., 2011. Efficacia delle AMP nella conservazione della biodiversità: i popolamenti a Cystoseira nell’AMP “Capo Gallo-Isola delle Femmine” (PA). Biogeographia, 30, 241-250.

Mazzoldi, C., De Girolamo, M., 1998. Littoral fish community of the Island Lampedusa (Italy): a visual census approach. Italian Journal of Zoology, 65 (S1), 275-280.

Milazzo, M., Cattano, C., Alonzo, S. H., Foggo, A., Gristina, M. et al., 2016. Ocean acidification affects fish spawning but not paternity at CO2 seeps. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 283:20161021.

Mori, S., 1995. Spatial and temporal variations in nesting success and the causes of nest losses of the freshwater three-spined stickleback, Gasterosteus aculeatus. Environmental biology of fishes, 43(3), 323-328.

Mouillot, D., Culioli, J. M., Lepretre, A., Tomasini, J. A., 1999. Dispersion statistics and sample size estimates for three fish species (Symphodus ocellatus, Serranus scriba and Diplodus annularis) in the Lavezzi Islands Marine Reserve (South Corsica, Mediterranean Sea). Marine Ecology, 20 (1), 19-34.

Potts, G.W., 1985, The nest structure of the corkwing wrasse, Crenilabrus melops (Labridae: Teleostei). Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, 65, 531-546.

Quignard, J.P., Pras, A., 1986. Labridae. p. 919-942. In: Fishes of the north-eastern Atlantic and the Mediterranean. Whitehead, P.J.P., Bauchot, M.L., Hureau, J.C., Nielsen, J., Tortonese, E., (Eds), UNESCO, Paris:.

Raventos, N., 2004. Effects of wave action on nesting activity in the littoral five-spotted wrasse, Symphodus roissali (Labridae), in the northwestern Mediterranean Sea. Scientia Marina, 68, 257-264.

Raventos N., 2006. Nest site characteristics and nesting success of the fivespotted wrasse Symphodus roissali in the north-western Mediterranean Sea. Journal of Fish Biology, 68, 305-309.

Raventos, N., McPherson, E., 2001. Planktonic larval duration and settlement marks on the otoliths of Mediterranean littoral fishes. Marine Biology, 138, 1115-1120.

Reynolds, J. D., Dulvy, N. K., Goodwin, N. B., Hutchings, J. A., 2005. Biology of extinction risk in marine fishes. Proceeding of the Royal Society B, 272, 2337-2344.

Riggio, S., Raimondo, F. M.,1991. Proposta di una riserva costiera per la tutela e la valorizzazione dei biotopi di Isola delle Femmine e di Monte Gallo (Palermo). Quaderni di Botanica Ambientale Applicata, 2, 59-96.

Ruitton, S., Francour, P., Boudouresque, C.F., 2000. Relationships between algae, benthic herbivorous invertebrates and fishes in rocky sublittoral communities of a temperate sea (Mediterranean). Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 50 (2), 217-230.

Sargent, R.C., Gebler, J.B., 1980. Effects of nest site concealment on hatching success, reproductive success and paternal behavior of the Threespine Stickleback, Gasterosteus aculeatus. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 7, 137-142.

Sinopoli, M., Cattano, C., Chemello, R., Timpanaro, A., Timpanaro, V. et al., 2015. Nest building in a Mediterranean wrasse (Symphodus ocellatus): are the algae used randomly chosen or actively selected? Marine Ecology, 36 (4), 942-949.

Taborsky, M., 1994. Sneakers, satellites and helpers: Parasitic and cooperative behavior in fish reproduction. Advances in the Study of Behavior, 23, 1-100.

Taborsky, M., Hudde, B., Wirtz, P., 1987, Reproductive behaviour and ecology of Symphodus (Crenilabrus) ocellatus, a European wrasse with four types of male behaviour. Behaviour, 102, 82-118.

Uglem, I., Rosenqvist, G., 2002. Nest building and mating in relation to male size in corkwing wrasse, Symphodus melops. Environmental biology of fishes, 63 (1), 17-25.

Underwood, A.J., 1997. Experiments in ecology: their logical design and interpretation using analysis of variance. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 524 pp.

Wentworth, C. K., 1944. Potholes, pits, and pans; subaerial and marine (Hawaii). Journal of Geology, 52, 117-130.

Warner, R.R., Lejeune, P., 1985. Sex change limited by paternal care: a test using four Mediterranean labrid fishes, genus Symphodus. Marine Biology, 87, 89-99.

Wernerus, F.M., Lejeune, P., Van Der Berghe, E.P., 1989. Transmission of mating success among neighboring males in the Mediterranean labrid fish Symphodus ocellatus. Biology of behaviour, 14 (3), 195-206

Zuur, A.F., Ieno, E.N., Walker, N.J., Saveliev, A.A., Smith, G.M., 2009. Zero-truncated and zero-inflated models for count data. p. 261-293. In: Mixed effects models and extensions in ecology with R. Gail, M., Krickeberg, K., Samet, J., Tsiatis, A., Wong, W. (Eds). Springer, New York.


  • There are currently no refbacks.