Bisexual fish boost mating chances

December 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.

And it works.

Researchers said small, non-dominant Atlantic molly males, often overlooked for larger, flashier rivals as mating partners, rose vastly in the esteem of females that observed them copulating—regardless of the partner's sex.

Some female animals are known to show a preference for mating with males they had observed coupling with other females in a phenomenon known as "mate choice copying".

This allows them to evaluate the quality of a potential mate from a distance.

For this study, the researchers set out to show that homosexual behaviour in the tropical Poecilia mexicana would similarly boost a drabber male's chances of heterosexual coupling.

"P. mexicana females increase their preference for initially non-preferred males not only after observing those males interacting sexually with females, but also when having observed them initiating homosexual behaviour," the team wrote of their findings in the journal Royal Society Biology Letters.

Normally, females of the species, a popular tropical aquarium fish and close relative of the better-known , show a preference for large, colourful and .

"As homosexual behaviour is regularly seen in small P.mexicana males, we speculate that it might represent an alternative mating tactic used by subordinate, and thus, less attractive males, the University of Frankfurt researchers wrote.

And they cited a quote attributed to US filmmaker Woody Allen that "bisexuality immediately doubles your chances for a date on Saturday night".

"Direct benefits for males of exhibiting homosexual behaviour may help explain its occurrence and persistence in species in which females rely on copying as one component of mate ," said the study.

While exclusive male homosexuality has been shown only in humans, sheep and some birds, bisexual behaviour is quite common in the animal kingdom.

Explore further: Females choose sexier friends to avoid harassment

More information: rsbl.royalsocietypublishing.or … content/9/1/20121038

Related Stories

Females choose sexier friends to avoid harassment

December 7, 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 Society B, the study ...

Mating that causes injuries

February 20, 2009

Researchers at Uppsala University can now show that what is good for one sex is not always good for the other sex. In fact, evolutionary conflicts between the two sexes cause characteristics and behaviors that are downright ...

'Paranoia' about rivals alters insect mating behavior

August 8, 2011

Scientists at the University of Liverpool have found that male fruitflies experience a type of 'paranoia' in the presence of another male, which doubles the length of time they mate with a female, despite the female of the ...

Dating drought or purple patch? How males choose mates

October 11, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Males decide how much effort they put into courtship and which females to court based on how many others they have recently encountered and how attractive they were, according to a new study into the mating ...

Recommended for you

Study identifies new malaria parasites in wild bonobos

November 21, 2017

Malaria parasites, although widespread among wild chimpanzees and gorillas, have not been detected in bonobos, a chimp cousin. Reasoning that previous studies may have missed infected bonobo populations, a team led by Beatrice ...

The strange case of the scuba-diving fly

November 20, 2017

More than a century ago, American writer Mark Twain observed a curious phenomenon at Mono Lake, just to the east of Yosemite National Park: enormous numbers of small flies would crawl underwater to forage and lay eggs, but ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

grondilu
not rated yet Dec 12, 2012
lol

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.