Female Guppies Risk Their Lives To Avoid Too Much Male Attention

May 15, 2006

Sexual harassment is a burden that females of many species face, and some may go to extreme lengths to avoid it. In a new paper from the June issue of the American Naturalist, Darren Croft (University of Wales) and a research team from the University of Leeds suggest that female guppies, a popular aquarium fish, may risk their lives to avoid too much attention from males.

Observing wild population of guppies in the rainforest of Trinidad, the researchers found that female guppies swim in habitats that contain few males – but many predators.

"Male guppies spend most of their time displaying to females. But if their courtship displays don't impress the females, males will attempt to sneak mating with them when they aren't looking," says Croft.

Male guppies are brightly colored to attract female attention, while female guppies are a dull brown color. The researchers show that female guppies might use this color difference to their advantage, venturing into the deep water where predators lurk. The males' bright coloring also attracts predators, making it too dangerous for them to follow.

"Understanding why and how [sexual segregation] occurs is essential if we are going to conserve and protect species and habitats," explains Croft, who points out that fish are not the only species who display this social characteristic. "In many ecosystems, predators are the first to go extinct, and our work shows that this may have many, perhaps unexpected, effects. In this case, females may suffer more sexual harassment."

Copyright 2006 by Space Daily, Distributed United Press International

Explore further: Bodies of 500 sea lions found on Peruvian beach

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Males produce faster sperm for sisters

May 07, 2014

(Phys.org) —Mating with relatives, or inbreeding, can be costly to both sexes, and in many species males and females avoid mating with siblings.  However, the latest research adds a twist to this story ...

Guppies and sexual conflict? It's a genital arms race

Jun 03, 2013

(Phys.org) —It's not always easy to tell if a fish is male or female: they look more or less the same. But there are exceptions, such as guppies and, as with humans, guppy genitalia varies in size across ...

Bisexual fish boost mating chances

Dec 12, 2012

In an unusual mating strategy, hard-up males of a tiny, promiscuous fish species engage in homosexual acts in a bid to entice females to copulate with them, a study said Wednesday.

Females choose sexier friends to avoid harassment

Dec 07, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Scientists have observed a strategy for females to avoid unwanted male attention: choosing more attractive friends. Published today (7 December) in the journal Proceedings of the Royal So ...

Recommended for you

Seychelles poachers go nutty for erotic shaped seed

10 hours ago

Under cover of darkness in the steamy jungles of the Seychelles thieves creep out to harvest the sizeable and valuable nuts of the famous coco de mer palm, and their activities are threatening its long-term ...

Rare new species of plant: Stachys caroliniana

Nov 21, 2014

The exclusive club of explorers who have discovered a rare new species of life isn't restricted to globetrotters traveling to remote locations like the Amazon rainforests, Madagascar or the woodlands of the ...

Mysterious glowworm found in Peruvian rainforest

Nov 21, 2014

(Phys.org) —Wildlife photographer Jeff Cremer has discovered what appears to be a new type of bioluminescent larvae. He told members of the press recently that he was walking near a camp in the Peruvian ...

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.