When prowling for a hook up, it's not always the good-looker who gets the girl. In fact, in a certain species of South American fish, brawn and stealth beat out colorful and refined almost every time.
In a series of published studies of a South American species of fish (Poecilia parae), which are closely related to guppies, Syracuse University scientists have discovered how the interplay between male mating strategies and predator behavior has helped preserve the population's distinctive color diversity over the course of time. The third study in the series was published Dec. 23 in BMC Evolutionary Biology, a publication of BioMed Central, London. The studies were supported in part by grants from the National Science Foundation (NSF).
"Poecilia parae are an ideal model for investigating how genetic diversity originates and is maintained within a species," says study author Jorge Luis Hurtado-Gonzales, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Biology in SU's College of Arts and Sciences. "The findings may help us better understand how to protect biodiversity in larger ecosystems." Hurtado-Gonzales' co-author is J. Albert C. Uy of the University of Miami.
Like guppies, Poecilia parae sexually reproduce and their offspring are born live. Unlike guppies, in which no two males have exactly the same color patterns, Poecilia parae males come in five, genetically determined colorsred, yellow, blue, parae (clear with a black stripe), and immaculata (drab gray that mimics the color of immature females). When found in the wild, the abundance of each color group represented in the total population is relatively constant despite the fact that females prefer to mate with the more striking reds and yellows.
"If females prefer red and yellow males, then one would think that red and yellow would dominate and the other colors would phase out over time," Hurtado-Gonzales says. "However, red and yellow are the rarest colors fo
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