Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Females Decide Whether Ambitious Males Float Or Flounder

Date:
February 5, 2008
Source:
McMaster University
Summary:
Aggression, testosterone and nepotism don't necessarily help one climb the social ladder, but the support of a good female can, according to new research on the social habits of an unusual African species of fish.

John Fitzpatrick, a graduate student in the Department of Biology, stands in front of a tank containing cichlid fish.
Credit: Photo by Susan Bubak

Aggression, testosterone and nepotism don't necessarily help one climb the social ladder, but the support of a good female can, according to new research on the social habits of an unusual African species of fish.

Related Articles


The study, published January 30 in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society, highlights the complex relationship between social status, reproductive physiology and group dynamics.

"We found that changes in social status were regulated by the most dominant female in a social group", says John Fitzpatrick, lead researcher and a graduate student in the department of Biology at McMaster University. "In fact, dominant females seemed to act as gatekeepers, allowing only males larger than themselves to move up in status and become dominant."

Males rising to a dominant social position, says Fitzpatrick, instantly altered their behaviour, becoming more aggressive. In addition, they dramatically ramped up their reproductive physiology, almost doubling the size of their testes in one week.

Working underwater off the Zambian shores of Lake Tanganyika in Africa, the researchers examined how males respond to changes in social position in the cichlid fish, Neolamprologus pulcher. This species lives in permanent social groups made up of a dominant male and female breeding pair and subordinate males and females that help this pair look after young and defend territory.

By removing the male breeders, researchers created vacancies and provided an opportunity for subordinate males to rise through the ranks.

"Hormones and genetic relationships didn't necessarily determine who gets to be top dog," says Sigal Balshine, the senior author on the study and an associate professor in the department of Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour. "Most folks would have thought that how aggressive you are, how big and powerful you are or how much testosterone you have might be important in understanding status change and dominance rankings. Our study combined several approaches to show that simply isn't the case -- instead, the female and the social landscape are key."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by McMaster University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

McMaster University. "Females Decide Whether Ambitious Males Float Or Flounder." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 February 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/01/080130101743.htm>.
McMaster University. (2008, February 5). Females Decide Whether Ambitious Males Float Or Flounder. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/01/080130101743.htm
McMaster University. "Females Decide Whether Ambitious Males Float Or Flounder." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/01/080130101743.htm (accessed October 25, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Deep Sea 'mushroom' Could Be Early Branch on Tree of Life

Deep Sea 'mushroom' Could Be Early Branch on Tree of Life

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 24, 2014) Miniature deep sea animals discovered off the Australian coast almost three decades ago are puzzling scientists, who say the organisms have proved impossible to categorise. Academics at the Natural History of Denmark have appealed to the world scientific community for help, saying that further information on Dendrogramma enigmatica and Dendrogramma discoides could answer key evolutionary questions. Jim Drury has more. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Black Bear Cub Goes Sunday Shopping

Black Bear Cub Goes Sunday Shopping

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Oct. 23, 2014) Price check on honey? Bear cub startles Oregon drugstore shoppers. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dances With Wolves in China's Wild West

Dances With Wolves in China's Wild West

AFP (Oct. 23, 2014) One man is on a mission to boost the population of wolves in China's violence-wracked far west. The animal - symbol of the Uighur minority there - is under threat with a massive human resettlement program in the region. Duration: 00:41 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Breakfast Debate: To Eat Or Not To Eat?

Breakfast Debate: To Eat Or Not To Eat?

Newsy (Oct. 23, 2014) Conflicting studies published in the same week re-ignited the debate over whether we should be eating breakfast. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins