Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Male sex ornaments are fishing lures, literally

Date:
July 12, 2012
Source:
Cell Press
Summary:
Talk about a bait-and-switch. Male representatives of the tropical fish known as swordtail characins have flag-like sex ornaments that catch mates just like the bait on a fishing rod would.

Talk about a bait-and-switch. Male representatives of the tropical fish known as swordtail characins have flag-like sex ornaments that catch mates just like the bait on a fishing rod would. What's more, a study reported online on July 12 in Current Biology, a Cell Press publication, shows just what any good fly-fisherman would know: Lures work best if they mimic the foods that fish most often eat. For some characins in the study, that means males are waving pretend ants around in hopes of getting a bite.

"This is a natural example of a fishing lure designed to maximize the chance to catch a fish," said Niclas Kolm of Uppsala University. "In this case, it is not just any fish, however -- it is a fish of the opposite sex that the lure is designed to catch."

The findings also lend support to the notion that sensory drive can encourage fish and other animals to diversify and ultimately to become separate species. Sensory drive is the idea that communication signals will work best when they are a good match for their surroundings and that they will diversify when those surroundings vary.

The characins living in Trinidad show considerable variation in the shape of male sex ornaments, and the researchers suspected that those differences might have something to do with what they eat. The fish mainly eat bugs, including ants, beetles, springtails, and fly larvae, which fall onto the water surface. In some populations, characins eat mostly ants, while in others they eat few.

Kolm's team now confirms that characins that mainly eat ants also carry sex ornaments that look more like ants. Studies in the lab also show that females who have been fed on ants prefer to bite at the ornaments of males from populations that mainly eat ants. That's presumably because those females rapidly develop a search image for ants.

The findings show that sensory drive can promote differences among populations based entirely on other species in the community, even when all other environmental factors are the same. They also blur the distinction between food and mate preferences, the researchers say.

In this case, it seems, the best mate is also the one that looks most like dinner.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. N. Kolm, M. Amcoff, R. P. Mann & G. Arnqvist. Diversification of a food-mimicking male ornament via sensory drive. Current Biology, 2012 (accepted)

Cite This Page:

Cell Press. "Male sex ornaments are fishing lures, literally." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 July 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120712131709.htm>.
Cell Press. (2012, July 12). Male sex ornaments are fishing lures, literally. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120712131709.htm
Cell Press. "Male sex ornaments are fishing lures, literally." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120712131709.htm (accessed April 17, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

The Great British Farmland Boom

The Great British Farmland Boom

Reuters - Business Video Online (Apr. 17, 2014) Britain's troubled Co-operative Group is preparing to cash in on nearly 18,000 acres of farmland in one of the biggest UK land sales in decades. As Ivor Bennett reports, the market timing couldn't be better, with farmland prices soaring over 270 percent in the last 10 years. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Change of Diet Helps Crocodile Business

Change of Diet Helps Crocodile Business

Reuters - Business Video Online (Apr. 16, 2014) Crocodile farming has been a challenge in Zimbabwe in recent years do the economic collapse and the financial crisis. But as Ciara Sutton reports one of Europe's biggest suppliers of skins to the luxury market has come up with an unusual survival strategy - vegetarian food. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) A new study conducted by researchers at Northwestern and Harvard suggests even casual marijuana use can alter your brain. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Thousands Of Vials Of SARS Virus Go Missing

Thousands Of Vials Of SARS Virus Go Missing

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) A research institute in Paris somehow misplaced more than 2,000 vials of the deadly SARS virus. 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