Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 17, Issue 3, pp 199–205 | Cite as

Female preference and sexual selection for male coloration in the guppy (Poecilia reticulata)

  • Astrid Kodric-Brown


Experiments were designed to determine the effects of male pigmentation patterns on female choice in guppies. When presented with a series of variably-colored males, females of different genetic strain consistently exhibited similar preferences (Tables 1 and 2), preferring those males with the greatest development of both carotenoid and iridescent pigments (Table 3). A partial rank correlation analysis of pigments of males indicates positive correlations between the iridescent and carotenoid pigments and also between melanins and showiness (Table 4). Only when either the carotenoid or iridescent pigments were held constant was there any effect of the other pigments on the ranking order of males by the females. Other pigments appear to be relatively unimportant in influencing female choice of males. These results indicate that females discriminate among males on the basis of color and that females of different strains prefer the same male colors rather than those characteristics of males of their own strain. The results support those models of sexual selection that hold that sexually selected traits honestly advertise the phenotypic and genetic qualities of males; they do not support models of runaway selection for particular male traits, such as first proposed by Fisher (1930).


Carotenoid Rank Correlation Sexual Selection Ranking Order Female Choice 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Andersson M (1982) Sexual selection, natural selection and quality advertisement. Biol J Linn Soc 17:375–393Google Scholar
  2. Baerends GP, Brouwer R, Waterbolk HTJ (1955) Ethological studies on Lebistes reticulatus (Peters) I. An analysis of the male courtship pattern. Behaviour 8:249–334Google Scholar
  3. Bell G (1978) The handicap principle in sexual selection. Evolution 32:872–885Google Scholar
  4. Borgia G (1979) Sexual selection and the evolution of mating systems. In: Blum MS, Blum NA (eds) Sexual selection and reproductive competition in insects. Academic, New York pp 215–223Google Scholar
  5. Deufel J (1975) Physiological effect of carotenoids on salmonidae. Hydrologie 37:244–248Google Scholar
  6. Emlen ST, Oring LW, (1977) Ecology, sexual selection and the evolution of mating systems. Science 197:215–223Google Scholar
  7. Endler JA (1978) A predator's view of animal color patterns. Evol Biol 11:319–364Google Scholar
  8. Endler JA (1980) Natural selection on color patterns in Poecilia reticulata. Evolution 34:76–91Google Scholar
  9. Endler JA (1983) Natural and sexual selection on color patterns in poeciliid fishes. Environ Biol Fish 9:173–190Google Scholar
  10. Farr JA (1976) Social facilitation on male sexual behavior, intrasexual competition, and sexual selection in the guppy, Poecilia reticulata (Pisces: Poeciliidae). Evolution 30:707–717Google Scholar
  11. Farr JA (1977) Male rarity or novelty, female choice behavior, and sexual selection in the guppy, Poecilia reticulata (Pisces, Poeciliidae). Evolution 31:162–168Google Scholar
  12. Farr JA (1980) Social behavior patterns as determinants of reproductive success in the guppy, Poecilia reticulata Peters (Pisces, Poeciliidae). Behaviour 74:38–91Google Scholar
  13. Fisher RA (1930) The genetical theory of natural selection. The Clarendon, Oxford, pp 272Google Scholar
  14. Fox DL (1976) Animal biochromes and structural colours. University of California Press, Berkeley, p 433Google Scholar
  15. Fujii R (1969) Chromatophores and pigments. In: Hoar WS, Randall DJ (eds) Fish physiology, vol 3. Academic, New York, pp 307–353Google Scholar
  16. Hamilton WD, Zuk M (1982) Heritable true fitness and bright brids: a role for parasites? Science 218:384–387Google Scholar
  17. Harma T, Hasegawa H (1967) Studies on the chromatophores of Oryzias latipes (teleostean fish): Behavior of pteridine, fat and carotenoid during xanthophore differentiation in the color varieties. Proc Jpn Acad 43:901–906Google Scholar
  18. Haskins CP, Haskins EF (1951) The inheritance of certain color patterns in wild populations of Lebistes reticulatus in Trinidad. Evolution 5:216–225Google Scholar
  19. Haskins CP, Haskins EF, McLaughlin JJA, Hewitt RE (1961) Polymorphism and population structure in Lebistes reticulatus, a population study. In: Blair WF (ed) Vertebrate speciation. University of Texas Press, Austin, pp 320–395Google Scholar
  20. Hildemann WH, Wagner ED (1954) Intraspecific sperm competition in Lebistes. Am Nat 88:87–91Google Scholar
  21. Kirkpatrick M (1982) Sexual selection and the evolution of female choice. Evolution 36:1–12Google Scholar
  22. Kodric-Brown A, Brown JH (1984) Truth in advertising: the kinds of traits favored by sexual selection. Am Nat 124:309–323Google Scholar
  23. Land R (1980) Sexual dimorphisms, sexual selection, and adaptation in polgenic characters. Evolution 34:292–307Google Scholar
  24. Liley RN (1966) Ethological isolating mechanisms in four sympatric species of Peociliid fishes. Behaviour (Suppl) 13:1–197Google Scholar
  25. Maynard Smith J (1976) Sexual selection and the handicap principle. J Theor Biol 57:239–242Google Scholar
  26. Nur N, Hasson O (1984) Phenotypic plasticity and the handicap principle. J Theor Biol 110:275–297Google Scholar
  27. O'Donald P (1980) Genetic models of sexual selection. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 250Google Scholar
  28. Quantz G (1980) Über den Einfluß von carotinoidreichem Trockenfutter auf die Eibefruchtung der Regenbogenforelle (Salmo gardneri R). Arch Fischereiwiss 31:29–40Google Scholar
  29. Winge O, Ditlevsen (1947) Colour inheritance and sex determination in Lebistes. Heredity 1:65Google Scholar
  30. Zahavi A (1975) Mate selection — a selection for a handicap. J Theor Biol 53:205–214Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • Astrid Kodric-Brown
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Ecology and Evolutionary BiologyUniversity of ArizonaTucsonUSA

Personalised recommendations