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Light environment and mating behavior in Trinidadian guppies (Poecilia reticulata)

Archard, Gabrielle A., Cuthill, Innes C. and Partridge, Julian C. 2009. Light environment and mating behavior in Trinidadian guppies (Poecilia reticulata). Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 64 (2) , pp. 169-182. 10.1007/s00265-009-0834-2

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Male guppies, Poecilia reticulata, have color patterns that result from a balance between natural selection for crypsis to avoid predators and sexual selection for bright, complex patterns that attract females. Males use displays to show off these patterns to potential mates, but their conspicuousness also depends on the light environment in which they are viewed. We investigated variation in natural underwater guppy light environments in Trinidad, West Indies, and found that mating behavior is correlated with both the ‘quantity’ (total irradiance) and ‘quality’ (spectral composition) of light: light intensity and the proportion of ultraviolet light were negatively related to display rates. Experimental manipulation of light environment to mimic natural daily changes demonstrated that these relationships are causal and are independent of time of day effects. At lower light levels, when guppies are less detectable by visually hunting predators, females had more opportunity for active mate choice, because males displayed more. However, these light conditions may reduce the ability of females to accurately discriminate between males. Guppy mating behavior is therefore strongly affected by light environment, and this may have important effects on sexual selection.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Biosciences
Subjects: Q Science > Q Science (General)
Uncontrolled Keywords: guppy; light environment; irradiance; mating behavior; sexual selection
Publisher: Springer
ISSN: 0340-5443
Last Modified: 31 Jan 2020 10:44

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