Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

The color of love: Zebrafish perform colorful courtship displays

Date:
November 30, 2012
Source:
Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien
Summary:
Billy Ocean may not have been thinking of fish when he wrote “The Color of Love”, but biologists were able to show that zebrafish males and females both wear their brightest colors while wooing a mate.

Sexual dichromatism becomes apparent during courtship in zebrafish: the one at the top is wearing its courtship colours.
Credit: Vetmeduni Vienna/Zala

Billy Ocean may not have been thinking of fish when he wrote "The Color of Love," but Sophie Hutter, Attila Hettyey, Dustin Penn, and Sarah Zala from the Konrad Lorenz Institute of Ethology of the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna were able to show that zebrafish males and females both wear their brightest colours while wooing a mate.

Related Articles


Elaborate secondary sexual displays are often overlooked because many species attract mates through sensory modalities imperceptible to humans, including ultraviolet light, ultrasound, electrical signals, or pheromones. Also, sexual coloration may only be expressed briefly during courtship (ephemeral courtship dichromatisms) to avoid attracting predators. Zebrafish (Danio rerio) are a widely studied model organism, though there have been few studies on their mating behaviour. Like many schooling fish, zebrafish do not appear sexually dichromatic to humans; there are no obvious differences in the colour of males and females. Previous studies suggest that colour and stripe patterns influence their social and reproductive behaviour, but surprisingly, body colouration has not been quantitatively studied before in this fish.

The researchers studied sexually mature wild-derived zebrafish and a domesticated strain to compare the sexes and the two populations both in the morning, when mating and spawning occur, and again later in the day, when the fish only shoal. To assess the colour properties the scientists used non-invasive techniques such as digital photography, computer software and human observations and they photographed the fishin the water, while interacting with each other. The photographs allowed them to analyse hue, saturation, and brightness and to obtain numerical estimates of three colour properties.

They found that both males and females changed their colour (dark and light stripes) only during spawning, and that some sex differences in stripes were larger or only became apparent during this time. They also observed that individual males that appeared more colourful and conspicuous to the human eye engaged in courtship more often than less conspicuous males. These observations support the hypothesis that body colouration plays a role in the courtship and mating behaviour of zebrafish.

Both wild-derived and the laboratory strain of zebrafish showed this ephemeral dichromatism, but there were differences in the colour properties of the two populations, and reduced individual variation in the laboratory strain.

Further studies are needed to determine the underlying mechanisms and signalling functions of fleeting different colour expressions in zebrafish. Genetic analyses could help explain individual variation in nuptial colouration and provide insights into the evolutionary functions of this sexual dichromatism.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Sophie Hutter, Attila Hettyey, Dustin J. Penn, Sarah M. Zala. Ephemeral Sexual Dichromatism in Zebrafish (Danio rerio). Ethology, 2012; 118 (12): 1208 DOI: 10.1111/eth.12027

Cite This Page:

Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien. "The color of love: Zebrafish perform colorful courtship displays." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 November 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121130094826.htm>.
Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien. (2012, November 30). The color of love: Zebrafish perform colorful courtship displays. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121130094826.htm
Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien. "The color of love: Zebrafish perform colorful courtship displays." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121130094826.htm (accessed December 22, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Monday, December 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Christmas Kissing Good for Health

Christmas Kissing Good for Health

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 22, 2014) — Scientists in Amsterdam say couples transfer tens of millions of microbes when they kiss, encouraging healthy exposure to bacteria. Suzannah Butcher reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Brain-Dwelling Tapeworm Reveals Genetic Secrets

Brain-Dwelling Tapeworm Reveals Genetic Secrets

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 22, 2014) — Cambridge scientists have unravelled the genetic code of a rare tapeworm that lived inside a patient's brain for at least four year. Researchers hope it will present new opportunities to diagnose and treat this invasive parasite. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
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

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