Hotshots, hot spots, and female preference: exploring lek formation models with a bower-building cichlid fish

Young, Kyle A.; Genner, Martin J.; Joyce, Domino A.; Haesler, Marcel P. (2009). Hotshots, hot spots, and female preference: exploring lek formation models with a bower-building cichlid fish. Behavioral Ecology, 20(3), pp. 609-615. New York, N.Y.: Oxford University Press 10.1093/beheco/arp038

arp038.pdf - Published Version
Available under License Publisher holds Copyright.

Download (196kB) | Preview

In many animals, males congregate in leks that females visit for the sole purpose of mating. We observed male and female behavior on 3 different-sized leks of the bower-building cichlid fish Nyassachromis cf. microcephalus to test predictions of 3 prominent lek models: the "hotshot," "hot spot," and "female preference" models. In this system, we were able to refine these predictions by distinguishing between indirect mate choice, by which females restrict their set of potential mates in the absence of individual male assessment, and direct mate choice, by which females assess males and their territories through dyadic behavioral interactions. On no lek were males holding central territories favored by indirect or direct mate choice, contrary to the prediction of the hotshot model that leks form because inferior males establish territories surrounding hotshot males preferred by females. Average female encounter rate of males increased with lek size, a pattern typically interpreted as evidence that leks form through female preference for lekking males, rather than because males congregate in hot spots of high female density. Female propensity to engage in premating behavior once courted did not increase with lek size, suggesting female preference for males on larger leks operated through indirect choice rather than direct choice based on individual assessment. The frequency of male-male competitive interactions increased with lek size, whereas their foraging rate decreased, implying a cost to males maintaining territories on larger leks. Together these data most strongly support the female preference model, where females may benefit through indirect mate choice for males able to meet the competitive cost of occupying larger leks.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Ecology and Evolution (IEE) > Aquatic Ecology

UniBE Contributor:

Häsler, Marcel






Oxford University Press




Factscience Import

Date Deposited:

04 Oct 2013 15:22

Last Modified:

25 Oct 2019 05:43

Publisher DOI:


Web of Science ID:




URI: (FactScience: 206185)

Actions (login required)

Edit item Edit item
Provide Feedback