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.

Related Articles


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 January 27, 2015 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 January 27, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

How To: Mixed Green Salad Topped With Camembert Cheese

How To: Mixed Green Salad Topped With Camembert Cheese

Rumble (Jan. 26, 2015) Learn how to make a mixed green salad topped with a pan-seared camembert cheese in only a minute! Music: Courtesy of Audio Network. Video provided by Rumble
Powered by NewsLook.com
Water Fleas Prepare for Space Voyage

Water Fleas Prepare for Space Voyage

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Jan. 26, 2015) Scientists are preparing a group of water fleas for a unique voyage into space. The aquatic crustaceans, known as Daphnia, can be used as a miniature model for biomedical research, and their reproductive and swimming behaviour will be tested for signs of stress while on board the International Space Station. Jim Drury went to meet the team. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Husky Puppy Plays With Ferret

Husky Puppy Plays With Ferret

Rumble (Jan. 26, 2015) It looks like this 2-month-old Husky puppy and the family ferret are going to be the best of friends. Look at how much fun they&apos;re having together! Credit to &apos;Vira&apos;. Video provided by Rumble
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Model Flying, Walking Drone After Vampire Bats

Scientists Model Flying, Walking Drone After Vampire Bats

Buzz60 (Jan. 26, 2015) Swiss scientists build a new drone that can both fly and walk, modeling it after the movements of common vampire bats. Jen Markham (@jenmarkham) has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
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