Damselfish: A Devoted Husband

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When a male damselfish decides to settle down and raise a family he can expect a life of both being a stud and providing intensive childcare. If not, his female partner won’t stick around for long. I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet. Suzanne Dorsey is an assistant professor of biology at Salem College in North Carolina. She studies damselfish off the west coast of Barbados.

“The male in this species does all the work in terms of protecting the nest. The female invests her energy in making the egg. Once she makes the eggs and lays it in the male’s nest, he protects it for four days. She’s gone — she will occasionally check up on him. If he hasn’t done a good job, she won’t be back.”

Apparently, the female damselfish judges a potential mate by his caretaking of the eggs and by his ability to draw other egg-laying females to the nest.

“If he is not only successful in raising her eggs, but if he’s also successful in getting other eggs, that’s also attractive to the female. So she will lay eggs based on number one, is he successful in rearing the eggs and is he successful in getting other eggs. (#46, @2:45) The females only spawn at dawn. So they’ll come in at dawn, they’ll lay their eggs, another female will come in and lay her eggs, but they’ll do it in one patch.”

And once a male damselfish is accepted by a female and establishes his territory, he’ll defend and maintain it for life.

“He will stay in it the entire time. The only reason that a male might abandon his nest is if he’s forced to by a stronger male who outcompetes him for his territory, or if he’s injured and he needs to escape for a short while”

We’ll hear more about damselfish in future programs. Pulse of the Planet is presented by DuPont, bringing you the miracles of science for 200 years , with additional support provided by the National Science Foundation.

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Damselfish: A Devoted Husband

A male damselfish must be diligent nester to hold on to his mate.
Air Date:10/22/2004
Scientist:
Transcript:


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When a male damselfish decides to settle down and raise a family he can expect a life of both being a stud and providing intensive childcare. If not, his female partner won’t stick around for long. I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet. Suzanne Dorsey is an assistant professor of biology at Salem College in North Carolina. She studies damselfish off the west coast of Barbados.

"The male in this species does all the work in terms of protecting the nest. The female invests her energy in making the egg. Once she makes the eggs and lays it in the male’s nest, he protects it for four days. She’s gone -- she will occasionally check up on him. If he hasn’t done a good job, she won’t be back."

Apparently, the female damselfish judges a potential mate by his caretaking of the eggs and by his ability to draw other egg-laying females to the nest.

"If he is not only successful in raising her eggs, but if he’s also successful in getting other eggs, that’s also attractive to the female. So she will lay eggs based on number one, is he successful in rearing the eggs and is he successful in getting other eggs. (#46, @2:45) The females only spawn at dawn. So they’ll come in at dawn, they’ll lay their eggs, another female will come in and lay her eggs, but they’ll do it in one patch."

And once a male damselfish is accepted by a female and establishes his territory, he’ll defend and maintain it for life.

"He will stay in it the entire time. The only reason that a male might abandon his nest is if he’s forced to by a stronger male who outcompetes him for his territory, or if he’s injured and he needs to escape for a short while"

We’ll hear more about damselfish in future programs. Pulse of the Planet is presented by DuPont, bringing you the miracles of science for 200 years , with additional support provided by the National Science Foundation.

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