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 28, 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 28, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Monday, July 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

AP (July 28, 2014) Classes are being offered nationwide to encourage African Americans to learn about cooking fresh foods based on traditional African cuisine. The program is trying to combat obesity, heart disease and other ailments often linked to diet. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

AP (July 27, 2014) A live-streaming webcam catches loggerhead sea turtle hatchlings emerging from a nest in the Florida Keys. (July 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Russia Saves Gecko Sex Satellite, Media Has Some Fun With It

Russia Saves Gecko Sex Satellite, Media Has Some Fun With It

Newsy (July 27, 2014) The satellite is back under ground control after a tense few days, but with a gecko sex experiment on board, the media just couldn't help themselves. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Trees Could Save More Than 850 Lives Each Year

Trees Could Save More Than 850 Lives Each Year

Newsy (July 27, 2014) A national study conducted by the USDA Forest Service found that trees collectively save more than 850 lives on an annual basis. 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