Cowman, Peter F
Coker, Darren James
KAUST DepartmentBiological and Environmental Sciences and Engineering (BESE) Division
Red Sea Research Center (RSRC)
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AbstractFor many animals, affiliative relationships such as pair bonds form the foundation of society, and are highly adaptive. Animal systems amenable for comparatively studying pair bonding are important for identifying underlying biological mechanisms, but mostly exist in mammals. Better establishing fish systems will enable comparison of pair bonding mechanisms across taxonomically distant lineages that may reveal general underlying principles. We examined the utility of wild butterflyfishes (f: Chaetodontidae; g: Chaetodon) for comparatively studying pair bonding. Stochastic character mapping inferred that within the family, pairing is ancestral, with at least seven independent transitions to group formation and seven transition to solitary behavior from the late Miocene to recent. In six sympatric and wide-spread species representing a clade with one ancestrally reconstructed transition from paired to solitary grouping, we then verified social systems at Lizard Island, Australia. In situ observations confirmed that Chaetodon baronessa, C. lunulatus, and C. vagabundus are predominantly pair bonding, whereas C. rainfordi, C. plebeius, and C. trifascialis are predominantly solitary. Even in the predominantly pair bonding species, C. lunulatus, a proportion of adults (15 %) are solitary. Importantly, inter- and intra-specific differences in social systems do not co-vary with other previously established attributes (geographic occurrence, parental care, diet, or territoriality). Hence, the proposed butterflyfish populations are promising for comparative analyses of pair bonding and its mechanistic underpinnings. Avenues for further developing the system are proposed, including determining whether the utility of these species applies across their geographic disruptions.
CitationNowicki J, O’Connell L, Cowman PF, Walker S, Coker D, et al. (2017) Butterflyfishes as a System for Investigating Pair Bonding. Available: http://dx.doi.org/10.1101/214544.
SponsorsWe thank the anonymous referees for their thoughtful and constructive comments on earlier drafts of this manuscript. Thank you Andrew Cole, Marian Wong, Kelly Boyle, and Tim Tricas for logistic advice on butterflyfish capture and sexing. Manuela Giammusso, Kyvely Vlahakis, and Siobhan Heatwole provided excellent field assistance. David Hallmark kindly donated tagging equipment for this study. We thank Lizard Island Research Station for field support. We acknowledge all of the fishes that were sacrificed in order to undertake this project. This project was financially supported by ARC grants to M.S.P and S.P.W, and a GRS postgraduate research grant to J.P.N. Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority permit: G10/33239.1, G13/35909.1, G14/37213.1; James Cook University General Fisheries permit: 170251; James Cook University Animal Ethics approval: A1874.
PublisherCold Spring Harbor Laboratory
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