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Social environment affects female preference for male body color during development in artificially selected varieties of Poecilia latipinna

MacLaren, R. David
Ethology, ecology & evolution 2017 v.29 no.5 pp. 421-435
Poecilia latipinna, adults, color, colored varieties, females, fish, learning, males, mating behavior, models, rearing, social environment
This study provides evidence for an effect of social environment on color morph preference during development in two artificially selected varieties of the live-bearing fish Poecilia latipinna . Black-colored females reared exclusively in the presence of white-colored adults preferred to associate with white vs black males when tested using a standard dichotomous choice design. Similarly, white females reared exclusively in the presence of black adults showed a preference for black males in identical dichotomous choice tests. However, both black and white females when reared separately in the presence of a mix of black and white adults showed no preference for either male color variety. A second round of testing revealed that their preferences (or lack thereof), although significantly weaker, persisted for at least a week after the initial tests during which the model groups were altered; groups reared in the presence of opposite-colored adults were exposed to mixed-color adults, while groups reared in the presence of mixed-color adults were exposed to opposite-color models. Taken together, these data indicate that the females’ social environment during the first 2 months of life affected the development of preferences for male body color and further suggest such social learning could potentially influence mate and/or shoaling preferences for color and perhaps other traits in natural populations of P. latipinna .