Is this ichthyology’s most salacious study?
“Female mouthbrooders in control of pre- and postmating sexual selection,” Marcel P. Haesler, Charlotte M. Lindeyer, Oliver Otti, Danielle Bonfils, Dik Heg and Michael Taborsky, Behavioral Ecology, epub June 14, 2011. (Thanks to investigator Charles Oppenheim for bringing this to our attention.) The authors, at various institutions in Switzerland, The Netherlands, and the UK, explain:
“Here, we show that in the maternal mouthbrooder Ophthalmotilapia ventralis, females collect sperm from different males in their mouth, and males can successfully fertilize eggs even if the female did not lay eggs with them…. A mate choice experiment revealed that females prefer to spawn with males possessing strongly elongated pelvic fins, a conspicuous secondary sexual character of males in this cichlid. Additionally, the body length of males partly explained their success in sperm competition within the females’ mouth, a factor without apparent influence on female choice of partners with which to lay eggs. Hence, successful sires are determined by a 2-step process that is largely under female control; females select which males to spawn with and from which males they collect additional ejaculates for the subsequent sperm competition in their mouth.”