Female guppies risk death to avoid sexual harassment

Aug 06, 2008

Sexual harassment from male guppies is so bad that long-suffering females will risk their lives to escape it, according to new research from Dr Safi Darden and Dr Darren Croft from Bangor University. Their work, which was funded by the Natural Environment Research Council, is published today in the Royal Society's Biology Letters.

Male guppies spend most of their time displaying their brightly-coloured bodies to females in the hope of attracting a mate. The choosy females will usually only mate with the most attractive, high-quality males to ensure the production of strong offspring. If his courtship display is rejected, the male will often attempt to sneak a mating with his chosen female when she is not looking.

Avoiding the relentless male harassment uses up precious resources such as time and energy. This in turn reduces the time available for food foraging, and energy for growth and reproduction.

The researchers studied guppy behaviour in a Trinidad river and found that the females are segregating the sexes by choosing to spend time in areas where there are high numbers of predators. The brightly-coloured males are far more likely to attract the predators than the dull brown females, so they keep their distance.

Dr Croft explains, "Much like humans, female guppies produce relatively few eggs and give birth to live offspring. They don't lay their eggs for a seasonal spawning but keep them inside their bodies where they are fertilised by the males. Because they are not reliant on seasons, the females have a continuous battle to keep the males at bay -- so they are resorting to extreme measures to avoid unwelcome attention."

Source: Bangor University

Explore further: Early exposure to cat urine makes mice less likely to escape from cats

Related Stories

3-D scans of mating fruit flies uncovers female biology

Jun 29, 2015

Following in the footsteps of Leonardo Da Vinci's 1493 anatomical sketch of a man and woman, "The Copulation," Cornell researchers used cutting-edge X-ray technology to noninvasively image fruit flies during ...

Recommended for you

Researchers discover new mechanism of DNA repair

12 hours ago

The DNA molecule is chemically unstable giving rise to DNA lesions of different nature. That is why DNA damage detection, signaling and repair, collectively known as the DNA damage response, are needed.

The math of shark skin

20 hours ago

"Sharks are almost perfectly evolved animals. We can learn a lot from studying them," says Emory mathematician Alessandro Veneziani.

Cuban, US scientists bond over big sharks

Jul 03, 2015

Somewhere in the North Atlantic right now, a longfin mako shark—a cousin of the storied great white—is cruising around, oblivious to the yellow satellite tag on its dorsal fin.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.