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.

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 September 2, 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 September 2, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Snack Attack: Study Says Action Movies Make You Snack More

Snack Attack: Study Says Action Movies Make You Snack More

Newsy (Sep. 2, 2014) — You're more likely to gain weight while watching action flicks than you are watching other types of programming, says a new study published in JAMA. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Get A Mortgage, Receive A Cat — Only In Russia

Get A Mortgage, Receive A Cat — Only In Russia

Newsy (Sep. 2, 2014) — The incentive is in keeping with a Russian superstition that it's good luck for a cat to be the first to cross the threshold of a new home. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
U.N. Says Ebola Travel Restrictions Will Cause Food Shortage

U.N. Says Ebola Travel Restrictions Will Cause Food Shortage

Newsy (Sep. 2, 2014) — The U.N. says the problem is two-fold — quarantine zones and travel restrictions are limiting the movement of both people and food. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sharks Off the Menu and on the Tourist Trail in Palau

Sharks Off the Menu and on the Tourist Trail in Palau

AFP (Sep. 2, 2014) — Tourists in Palau clamour to dive with sharks thanks to a pioneering conservation initiative -- as the island nation plans to completely ban commercial fishing in its vast ocean territory. 01:15 Video provided by AFP
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:
from the past week

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