Home range use in the West Australian seahorse Hippocampus subelongatus is influenced by sex and partner’s home range but not by body size or paired status

Charlotta Kvarnemo, Susanne E. Andersson, Jonas Elisson, Glenn I. Moore, Adam G. Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Genetic monogamy is the rule for many species of seahorse, including the West Australian seahorse Hippocampus subelongatus. In this paper, we revisit mark-recapture and genetic data of H. subelongatus, allowing a detailed characterization of movement distances, home range sizes and home range overlaps for each individual of known sex, paired status (paired or unpaired) and body size. As predicted, we find that females have larger home ranges and move greater distances compared to males. We also confirm our prediction that the home ranges of pair-bonded individuals (members of a pair known to reproduce together) overlap more on average than home ranges of randomly chosen individuals of the opposite or same sex. Both sexes, regardless of paired status, had home ranges that overlapped with, on average, 6–10 opposite-sex individuals. The average overlap area among female home ranges was significantly larger than the overlap among male home ranges, probably reflecting females having larger home ranges combined with a female biased adult sex ratio. Despite a prediction that unpaired individuals would need to move around to find a mate, we find no evidence that unpaired members of either sex moved more than paired individuals of the same sex. We also find no effect of body size on home range size, distance moved or number of other individuals with which a home range overlapped. These patterns of movement and overlap in home ranges among individuals of both sexes suggest that low mate availability is not a likely explanation for the maintenance of monogamy in the West Australian seahorse.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)235-248
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Ethology
Volume39
Issue number2
Early online dateApr 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2021

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