Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Male Fish Deceive Rivals About Their Top Mate Choice

Date:
August 1, 2008
Source:
Cell Press
Summary:
When competitors are around, male Atlantic mollies try to hide their top mate choice, reveals a new study. They feign disinterest in females after onlookers enter the scene. What's more, after encountering a rival, the tricky males direct their first sexual advances toward females that really aren't their first pick.

When competitors are around, male Atlantic mollies try to hide their top mate choice, reveals a new study published online on July 31st in Current Biology, a Cell Press journal.

They feign disinterest in females after onlookers enter the scene. What's more, after encountering a rival, the tricky males direct their first sexual advances toward females that really aren't their first pick. Male mollies are known to copy other males' mate choices, the researchers noted.

"I find it particularly interesting that fish are capable of such a sophisticated behavior," said Martin Plath of the University of Potsdam in Germany and the University of Oklahoma. "The study highlights that traits that we typically ascribe to humans only can also be found in other, seemingly simpler animals and that no consciousness or self-awareness is needed for a behavior like deception to occur."

Deception among animals has been seen before, he noted. For instance, ravens try to trick rivals about where they hide food. Male pied flycatchers also may deceive females about whether they've already mated so as to have another go. Nevertheless, Plath said, the new study may be the first to show that males deceive other males about their preferred mate.

The new findings came as a surprise to the researchers. Plath had expected to corroborate earlier findings of his team, showing that male Atlantic mollies curb sexual activity when other males are around, acting as though they've lost interest in the opposite sex altogether. That previous study didn't allow full contact among the fish, however, and was therefore not well-suited to detect deception.

In the new study, the researchers first placed two "stimulus" females into a tank. They then introduced a male and observed his sexual advances—including nipping and mating attempts—for five minutes, repeating the experiment several times with different individuals. Immediately after those trials, they repeated the experiment, this time including an "audience male" in half of the encounters. Those onlookers could watch, but they couldn't interfere.

In the first experiments, males more often directed their initial advances toward the larger of the two females, they found. In the presence of another male, however, the focal male's interest in the females suddenly slumped and, when it did make a move, it was initially directed toward the punier, apparently less-preferred female.

The researchers suggest that deceptive signals may be a powerful mating strategy used by males to lead competitors away from preferred females, thereby increasing the chance that the deceivers will father the offspring, they said.

"Future studies will need to evaluate the potential for male mate choice copying and deception in natural populations, because male mate choice copying cannot be evolutionarily stable if males always have an opportunity to deceive rivals," they said. After all, if males always attempt such deception, any competitor who didn't fall for the ruse would have easy access to the choicest mating partner.

The researchers include Martin Plath, University of Potsdam, Potsdam, Germany, University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK; Stephanie Richter, University of Potsdam, Potsdam, Germany; Ralph Tiedemann, University of Potsdam, Potsdam, Germany; and Ingo Schlupp, University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK.


Story Source:

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


Cite This Page:

Cell Press. "Male Fish Deceive Rivals About Their Top Mate Choice." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 August 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080731135914.htm>.
Cell Press. (2008, August 1). Male Fish Deceive Rivals About Their Top Mate Choice. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080731135914.htm
Cell Press. "Male Fish Deceive Rivals About Their Top Mate Choice." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080731135914.htm (accessed July 25, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Friday, July 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Boy Attacked by Shark in Florida

Boy Attacked by Shark in Florida

Reuters - US Online Video (July 24, 2014) An 8-year-old boy is bitten in the leg by a shark while vacationing at a Florida beach. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Goma Cheese Brings Whiff of New Hope to DRC

Goma Cheese Brings Whiff of New Hope to DRC

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 24, 2014) The eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo, mainly known for conflict and instability, is an unlikely place for the production of fine cheese. But a farm in the village of Masisi, in North Kivu is slowly transforming perceptions of the area. Known simply as Goma cheese, the Congolese version of Dutch gouda has gained popularity through out the region. Ciara Sutton reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dogs Appear To Become Jealous Of Owners' Attention

Dogs Appear To Become Jealous Of Owners' Attention

Newsy (July 23, 2014) A U.C. San Diego researcher says jealousy isn't just a human trait, and dogs aren't the best at sharing the attention of humans with other dogs. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Professor Creates Site Revealing Where People's Cats Live

Professor Creates Site Revealing Where People's Cats Live

Newsy (July 23, 2014) ​It's called I Know Where Your Cat Lives, and you can keep hitting the "Random Cat" button to find more real cats all over the world. 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:
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