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Artificial Visible Implant Elastomer (VIE) tags of different colour and symmetry do not influence mate choice in a cichlid

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Experimental individuals are frequently marked with coloured tags for individual identification. Except for birds, the consequences of such artificial tagging on mate choice have been rarely investigated even though individuals often prefer naturally brightly coloured or symmetrically ornamented mates. We tested whether differently coloured Visible Implant Elastomer (VIE) tags influence female mate choice in rainbow kribs, Pelvicachromis pulcher. Females were allowed to simultaneously choose between a control and a VIE-marked male. The VIE-marked male carried two tags of the same colour (red, blue, green or white) set symmetrically or asymmetrically. Females did not show a preference for or avoidance of males carrying any of the colours compared to control males, no matter if the tags had been set symmetrically or asymmetrically. Although we found no discrimination for or against colour-tags, we highlight the importance of considering potential influences of colour-marks on mate choice in behavioural and evolutionary studies.

Affiliations: 1: Zoological Institute, Biocenter Grindel, University of Hamburg, Martin-Luther King Platz 3, 20146 Hamburg, Germany

*Corresponding author’s e-mail address:

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