Social Control of Sex Reversal in a Coral-Reef Fish

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Science  15 Sep 1972:
Vol. 177, Issue 4053, pp. 1007-1009
DOI: 10.1126/science.177.4053.1007


Males of Labroides dimidiatus control the process of sex reversal within social groups. Each group consists of a male with a harem of females, among which larger individuals dominate smaller ones. The male in each harem suppresses the tendency of the females to change sex by actively dominating them. Death of the male releases this suppression and the dominant female of the harem changes sex immediately. Possible genetic advantages of the system are considered.