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Female guppies (Poecilia reticulata) show no preference for conspecific chemosensory cues in the field or an artificial flow chamber

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Visually mediated mating behaviour has been extensively studied in guppies, Poecilia reticulata. In contrast, the effects of signals from other sensory modalities on receiver behaviour have received very little attention. Here we describe three field and laboratory experiments to investigate the attraction of females to conspecific chemosensory cues using guppies from the Caroni drainage of Trinidad. In an experiment with stationary water and concentrated stimulus solutions, guppies were equally attracted to chemosensory cues from males and females, and did not respond to control stimuli without conspecific cues. In the wild, guppies showed no attraction to conspecific chemosensory cues. In a laboratory flow chamber, set up to mimic the natural situation but without distractions from visual and other chemosensory stimuli, guppies were also not attracted to chemosensory cues from male or female guppies. In addition, the attraction of individual females to conspecific chemosensory cues was not repeatable. These experiments suggest that the use of conspecific chemosensory cues can attract female guppies only when in high concentrations. We discuss the effects of differences in experimental design on our findings, and the possibility of multimodal interactions between visual and chemosensory cues.

Affiliations: 1: School of Biological Sciences, University of Bristol, Woodland Road, Bristol BS8 1UG, UK, 406 Forest Resources Building, School of Forest Resources, The Pennsylvania State University, State College, PA 16802, USA;, Email:; 2: School of Biological Sciences, University of Bristol, Woodland Road, Bristol BS8 1UG, UK; 3: Department of Biological Sciences, University of Hull, Hull HU6 7RX, UK


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