Malawi cichlids are maternal mouthbrooders. Females visit many males, and may lay eggs with several. The female picks the eggs up immediately after they are laid, and incubates them in her mouth for approximately three weeks until the fry have absorbed their yolk. Analysis of paternity using microsatellite DNA markers shows that individual females mate with several males in each spawning cycle. We are interested in identifying the characteristics females use to choose a mate, and the genetic basis of these female preferences. At least for some species, visual cues alone are sufficient to elicit species-specific mate preferences.
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