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: Japan's whaling bid tested by world panel

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Size doesn't matter if you're a sex sneak

5 hours ago

Research into the mating behaviour of one of New Zealand's most unusual insects shows it doesn't always pay to be brave – sneaking sex can be just as effective.

Lady baboons with guy pals live longer

5 hours ago

Numerous studies have linked social interaction to improved health and survival in humans, and new research confirms that the same is true for baboons.

New parasitoid wasp species found in China

Sep 08, 2014

For the first time, wasps in the genus Spasskia (family: Braconidae) have been found in China, according to an article in the open-access Journal of Insect Science. In addition, a species in that genus which ...

Whale sex: It's all in the hips

Sep 08, 2014

(Phys.org) —Both whales and dolphins have pelvic (hip) bones, evolutionary remnants from when their ancestors walked on land more than 40 million years ago. Common wisdom has long held that those bones ...

Recommended for you

Japan's whaling bid tested by world panel

6 minutes ago

Japan's plans to resume a controversial Antarctic whale hunt in the name of research, which opponents say is really just for the meat, came under scrutiny in Slovenia on Tuesday.

Poachers turn gamekeeper to guard Rwandan gorillas

26 minutes ago

For four decades Leonidas Barora was a renowned hunter, tracking animals in the lush forests of Rwanda. Now he only fires arrows to impress tourists, and to help protect the wildlife.

Healthy humans make nice homes for viruses

11 hours ago

The same viruses that make us sick can take up residence in and on the human body without provoking a sneeze, cough or other troublesome symptom, according to new research at Washington University School ...

User comments : 0