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Sex recognition in surface and cave dwelling male Atlantic mollies Poecilia mexicana (Poeciliidae, Teleostei)

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image of Behaviour

Animals colonizing lightless subterranean habitats can no longer rely on visual signals to find mating partners. In the present study, we investigated the ability of males to recognize females in two surface and a cave dwelling population of a livebearing fish, Poecilia mexicana. In surface populations males discriminated between sexes with visual plus non-visual cues available and with visual stimuli only. In the cave form the ability to discriminate with solely visual stimuli is lacking. In all three populations, males did not recognize females in darkness (infrared observations), suggesting that sex recognition via far-field communication is lacking in surface and cave dwelling P.mexicana. Different preferences in large and small males to stay near a female or a male stimulus fish probably reflect differences concerning a trade-off between sexual and aggressive behaviour.


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