Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Sexual Harassment From Males Prevents Female Bonding, Fish Study Shows

Date:
April 22, 2009
Source:
University of Exeter
Summary:
The extent to which sexual harassment from males can damage relationships between females is revealed in a new study. The research uncovers the effect of sexual harassment on the ability of female fish to form social bonds with each other.

This is Dr. Darren Croft, University of Exeter, conducting the research in the West Indies.
Credit: University of Exeter

The extent to which sexual harassment from males can damage relationships between females is revealed in a new study. Led by the Centre for Research in Animal Behaviour at the University of Exeter and published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, the research uncovers the effect of sexual harassment on the ability of female fish to form social bonds with each other.

Related Articles


The study focused on guppies, a popular aquarium fish, in which scientists have previously observed a very high level of sexual harassment from males towards females. The researchers found that male harassment not only breaks down female social structures but also affects females' ability to recognise one another.

The research provides the first insight into the effect of male sexual harassment on female social networks and social recognition. The findings could have relevance to other species.

Lead author Dr Safi Darden of the University of Exeter explains "Sexual harassment is a burden that females of many species ranging from insects to primates suffer and the results of our work suggest that this harassment may limit the opportunities for females to form social bonds across a range of species"

The research team worked with a population of wild guppies in Trinidad, isolating the females and introducing males to change the sex ratio and examining the effect of males on female social behaviour. They carried out a number of experiments on each group to test the females' ability to recognise their peers and form bonds with other members of the group.

The study showed that, after experiencing a high level of sexual harassment, females were less able to recognise the other females in the group. They were also more likely to form bonds with new females, introduced from outside their network.

Co-author Dr Darren Croft of the University of Exeter said "This is an extremely interesting result as it appears that females that experience sexual harassment actually prefer to avoid other females with whom they associate the negative experience."

Those females that were grouped without males were better able to recognise one another and also showed a preference for females from within, rather than outside, the group.

Dr Safi Darden adds: "The health and well-being of an individual is dependent, in part, on having strong social bonds with others and females that have weakened social bonds may be less likely to survive in the wild. This makes the effect of male harassment quite significant, but it is an area that has not previously been studied."

The researchers do not know exactly why sexual harassment from males has such a marked effect on female social interaction. However, it is possible that the sheer amount of time spent by females dealing with unwanted male attention prevents them from forming relationships with other females. They believe females from groups with more males may have bonded with females from outside in order to try to establish themselves in a more favourable environment.

The study was carried out by the Universities of Exeter, Bangor and Bath and the University of the West Indies St Augestine and was funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC).


Story Source:

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


Cite This Page:

University of Exeter. "Sexual Harassment From Males Prevents Female Bonding, Fish Study Shows." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 April 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090421205316.htm>.
University of Exeter. (2009, April 22). Sexual Harassment From Males Prevents Female Bonding, Fish Study Shows. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090421205316.htm
University of Exeter. "Sexual Harassment From Males Prevents Female Bonding, Fish Study Shows." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090421205316.htm (accessed December 21, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Earthworms Provide Cancer-Fighting Bacteria

Earthworms Provide Cancer-Fighting Bacteria

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 21, 2014) Polish scientists isolate bacteria from earthworm intestines which they say may be used in antibiotics and cancer treatments. Suzannah Butcher reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Existing Chemical Compounds Could Revive Failing Antibiotics, Says Danish Scientist

Existing Chemical Compounds Could Revive Failing Antibiotics, Says Danish Scientist

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 21, 2014) A team of scientists led by Danish chemist Jorn Christensen says they have isolated two chemical compounds within an existing antipsychotic medication that could be used to help a range of failing antibiotics work against killer bacterial infections, such as Tuberculosis. Jim Drury went to meet him. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Monarch Butterflies Descend Upon Mexican Forest During Annual Migration

Monarch Butterflies Descend Upon Mexican Forest During Annual Migration

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Dec. 19, 2014) Millions of monarch butterflies begin to descend onto Mexico as part of their annual migration south. Rough Cut (no reporter narration) Video provided by Reuters
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