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Male alternative mating behaviour depending on tail length of the guppy, Poecilia reticulata

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Male guppies, Poecilia reticulata, exhibit two distinct types of mating behaviour, i.e., courting females for solicited copulation and sneaking behaviour for forced copulation. It is known that the frequency of these alternative mating behaviours is affected by environmental, genetic and morphological factors. We examined the influence of male tail (caudal fin) length on the frequency of these two types of mating behaviour. Female orient responses to courting males increased according to male courtship frequency and did not differ between males with longer and shorter tails. In further mating interactions, however, females showed glide responses much more frequently to displaying males with shorter tails than to those with longer tails. Males with shorter tails performed courtships more frequently than males with longer tails. Males with longer tails attempted sneaking (gonopodial thrusting) more often than those with shorter tails. These results indicate that male tail length determines the frequency of these alternative mating behaviour in the guppy. Assuming male long tails to be a deceptive tactic to attract females, the greater frequency of sneaking behaviour by males with longer tails to unreceptive females should be adaptive.

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