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Monogamy and sex change by aggressive dominance in coral reef fish



IN several sequentially hermaphroditic coral reef fish, of which individuals first function as females and then males (protogynous hermaphroditism), dominant males can control production of other males by aggressive dominance over females1–4. Robertson suggested that socially controlled protogynous sex changes might operate only in species with a well defined polygynous social system “based on individual relationships”2,3. Further exogenous and endogenous factors may control sex change in species which school anonymously and in which the individuals lack special individual relationships. We describe here socially controlled proteandric hermaphroditism (individuals functioning first as males and then as females) in the anemone fish Amphiprion, in which females control production of females by aggressive dominance over males.

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  1. 1

    Fishelson, L. Nature 227, 90 (1970).

  2. 2

    Robertson, D. R. Science 177, 1007–1009 (1972).

  3. 3

    Robertson, D. R. & Choat, J. H. Proc. second int. Coral Reef Symp. 1, 217–225 (Great Barrier Reef Committee, Brisbane, 1974).

  4. 4

    Warner, R. R. & Robertson, D. R. Science 190, 633–638 (1975).

  5. 5

    Allen, G. R. Anemone Fishes (TFH Publications Inc. Ltd, Neptune City, 1972).

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    Fricke, H. W. Naturwissenschaften 60, 204–205 (1973).

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