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Risk Sensitive Courtship in the Guppy (Poecilia Reticulata)

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This study investigated population differences in the courtship behaviour of male guppies, Poecilia reticulata, in the presence and absence of predators. Two Trinidad populations were compared: the Lower Aripo where guppies occur sympatrically with a range of piscivores and the Upper Aripo where levels of fish predation are low. Upper Aripo males displayed risk-reckless courtship behaviour and did not reduce their sigmoid display rate or otherwise modify their courtship behaviour when threatened by two Astyanax bimaculatus. The courtship behaviour of the Lower Aripo males was, by contrast, risk sensitive. These fish performed a lower proportion of sigmoid displays and increased their level of sneaky mating attempts in the presence of predators. Although males from the two populations used both sneaky and conventional courtship behaviours there were individual differences in the use of the reproductive tactics.

Affiliations: 1: School of Biological Sciences, University of Wales, Bangor, Gwynedd, LL57 2UW, U.K.


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