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Author Notes:

Hideaki Takeuchi, Email: takeuchi@okayama-u.ac.jp

Conceived and designed the experiments: SY, HT. Performed the experiments: SY, SA. Analysed the data: SY.

Contributed reagents/materials/analysis tools: SA, MK, KN, YK, TO. Wrote the paper: SY, LJY, TO, HT.

All authors gave final approval for publication.

We thank Prof. Takeo Kubo (The University of Tokyo) for constructive discussion and Dr. Shoji Fukamachi (Japan Women’s University) for technical support.

The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.


Research Funding:

This work was supported by the National Institute for Cooperative Research Project (13–327), JSPS KAKENHI Grant Numbers 26290003, the Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research on Innovative Areas “Memory dynamism” (26115508) from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, Grant-in-Aid for JSPS fellows (SY), Brain Science Foundation, and Yamada Science Foundation.


  • Familiarity
  • Female preference
  • Mate-guarding
  • Medaka fish

Mate-guarding behavior enhances male reproductive success via familiarization with mating partners in medaka fish.


Journal Title:

Frontiers in Zoology


Volume 13


, Pages 21-21

Type of Work:

Article | Final Publisher PDF


BACKGROUND: Male-male competition and female mating preference are major mechanisms of sexual selection, which influences individual fitness. How male-male competition affects female preference, however, remains poorly understood. Under laboratory conditions, medaka (Oryzias latipes) males compete to position themselves between a rival male and the female (mate-guarding) in triadic relationships (male, male, and female). In addition, females prefer to mate with visually familiar males. In the present study, to examine whether mate-guarding affects female preference via visual familiarization, we established a novel behavioral test to simultaneously quantify visual familiarization of focal males with females and mate-guarding against rival males. In addition, we investigated the effect of familiarization on male reproductive success in triadic relationships. RESULTS: Three fish (female, male, male) were placed separately in a transparent three-chamber tank, which allowed the male in the center (near male) to maintain closer proximity to the female than the other male (far male). Placement of the wild-type male in the center blocked visual familiarization of the far male by the female via mate-guarding. In contrast, placement of an arginine-vasotocin receptor mutant male, which exhibits mate-guarding deficits, in the center, allowing for maintaining close proximity to the female, did not block familiarization of the far male by the female. We also demonstrated that the reproductive success of males was significantly decreased by depriving females visual familiarization with the males. CONCLUSIONS: Our findings indicated that, at least in triadic relationships, dominance in mate-guarding, not simply close proximity, allows males to gain familiarity with the female over their rivals, which may enhance female preference for the dominant male. These findings focusing on the triadic relationships of medaka may contribute to our understanding of the adaptive significance of persistent mate-guarding, as well as female preference for familiar mates.

Copyright information:

© Yokoi et al. 2016

This is an Open Access work distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).

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