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January 3 - Febuary 28, 2021

Meeting Abstract

P37-5  Sat Jan 2  The role of ultraviolet light on mating behavior in two sand dwelling Lake Malawi cichlid fishes Daigle, KR*; Webb, JF; Maia, A; Rhode Island College, Providence, RI; University of Rhode Island, Kingston, RI; Rhode Island College, Providence, RI

Ultraviolet light is present in the underwater light field and varies with turbidity, depth, and time of day. Previous research has indicated the importance of ultraviolet light in the behavior of various vertebrates, including fishes. We investigated the role of ultraviolet light (UV) on the mating behaviors of two Lake Malawi cichlids, Aulonocara stuartgranti and Tramitichromis sp., sand-dwelling (non-mbuna) species. We tested the hypothesis that UV reflective components of body coloration serve as stimuli during mating behavior. Experiments were designed to determine how males respond to a female under varying light conditions – full spectrum (400-700nm) or ultraviolet light A (380-400nm), which enhances UV reflectivity of body coloration. Individual male fish (A. stuartgranti, n=3; Tramitichromis sp., n=5) were acclimated in an experimental tank for five minutes before the introduction of a female. Mating behaviors (fin display, chasing, tank patrol) were recorded in 30 minute trials using HD digital video under either visible spectrum or ultraviolet light (3 trials per fish). Behaviors were analyzed with respect to frequency and duration. Males of both species displayed mating behaviors more frequently under ultraviolet light than under full spectrum light. This provides evidence for UV vision and the importance of UV reflective components of body coloration in the mating behavior of these fishes. This research has been partially funded by RI C-AIM (NSF EPSCoR).