No evidence for UV-based nest-site selection in sticklebacks

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Background: Nests are built in various animal taxa including fish. In systems with exclusive male parental care, the choice of a nest site may be an important component of male fitness. The nest site may influence male attractiveness as a mate, and male, embryo, and juvenile survival probabilities. Reproductively active three-spined stickleback males establish and defend a territory in which they build a nest. Territories can differ remarkably in qualities that influence male and female reproductive success like predation risk or abiotic factors such as dissolved oxygen concentration or lighting conditions. The latter may be important because in sticklebacks the extended visual capability into the ultraviolet (UV) wave range plays a role in female mate choice. Males are thus expected to be choosy about the habitat in which they will build their nest. Results: We tested nest-site choice in male three-spined sticklebacks with respect to different UV lighting conditions. Reproductively active males were given the simultaneous choice to build their nest either in an UV-rich (UV+) or an UV-lacking (UV-) environment. Males exhibited no significant nest-site preferences with respect to UV+ or UV-. However, larger males and also heavier ones completed their nests earlier. Conclusion: We found that UV radiation as well as differences in luminance had no influence on nest-site choice in three-spined sticklebacks. Males that built in the UV-rich environment were not different in any trait (body traits and UV reflection traits) from males that built in the UV-poor environment. There was a significant effect of standard length and body mass on the time elapsed until nest completion in the UV experiment. The larger and heavier a male, the faster he completed his nest. In the brightness control experiment there was a significant effect only of body mass on the duration of nest completion. Whether nest building preferences with respect to UV lighting conditions are context dependent needs to be tested for instance by nest-site choice experiment under increased predation risk. © 2006 Modarressie and Bakker; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.




Modarressie, R., & Bakker, T. C. M. (2006). No evidence for UV-based nest-site selection in sticklebacks. Frontiers in Zoology, 3.

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