The Cichlid Fishes of Lake Malawi, Africa

Summary of Publication

Tobler, M. 2006. The eggspots of cichlids: Evolution through sensory exploitation? Zeitschrift für Fischkunde 8 (1-2): 39-46.  

Many cichlid species independently evolved mouthbreeding [sic] as a highly specialised brood care behavior. Egg dummies, resembling the ova of the corresponding species, formed of various parts of the body can be found in different lineages of mouthbreeding cichlids. Most abundant are eggspots, which are conspicuously yellow spots developed on the anal fin of males. Eggspots were believed to have evolved to deceive the females during spawning, thus maximising the fertilisation rates of the males, but empirical studies showed that the presence of eggspots has no effect on fertilisation rates. However, eggspots seem to play a role during mate choice of females. Here, the role of sexual selection in the evolution of eggspots is reviewed and eggspots are hypothesised to have evolved through sensory exploitation. The sensory exploitation hypothesis can explain the shortcomings of previously suggested hypotheses on the evolutionary origin of eggspots.




free hit counters