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Journal Article

Mate Choice Based Upon Naturally Occurring Color-Pattern Variation in a Guppy Population

Anne E. Houde
Evolution
Vol. 41, No. 1 (Jan., 1987), pp. 1-10
DOI: 10.2307/2408968
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2408968
Page Count: 10
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Mate Choice Based Upon Naturally Occurring Color-Pattern Variation in a Guppy Population
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Abstract

This study tested the effect of differences in the extent of orange pigment in the color pattern of male guppies on the sexual responsiveness of females. Fish used in this study were descendants of a single natural population from the Paria River of Trinidad. Males from this population have unusually large, brilliant orange spots. I used three experimental approaches to test for discrimination by females among males based on the relative area of orange in color patterns: 1) the time to mating when a male was presented to a virgin female; 2) the frequency of sexual responses of females to passing, nondisplaying males; and 3) the proportion of a male's courtship displays that elicited a female sexual response. In all three experiments, females appeared to discriminate against males with less-than-average amounts of orange in their color patterns. In at least one experiment, however, the increase in female responsiveness with increasing amounts of orange leveled off and possibly decreased at high levels of orangeness. This suggests that there may be no advantage of increased amounts of orange above a certain level. These results suggest that female choice is a mechanism for the evolution of color patterns in guppies and may have contributed to the distinctive color pattern of the Paria population.

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