, Volume 103, Issue 2, pp 224–229 | Cite as

Predation risk and alternative mating tactics in male Trinidadian guppies (Poecilia reticulata)

  • J.-G. J. Godin
Original Paper


In the guppy (Poecilia reticulata), males have two alternative mating tactics. Individual males may either display to a receptive female prior to attempting to copulate with her or attempt to quickly sneakcopulate with a female without first displaying to her or without a prior receptive response from her. In this study, I experimentally investigated the effects of simulated local increases in the risk of predation (in the form of a cichlid fish predator model in situ) on the mating tactics used by free-ranging male guppies in two typical macrohabitats (riffle and pool) of a Trinidadian river. Focal male guppies displayed to females significantly less often on average, and conversely attempted sneak copulations more often, in the presence of the predator model than in its absence; this pattern was similar for both habitats. These fish therefore performed a lower proportion of sigmoid displays and increased their sneaky mating attempts when the apparent risk of predation had increased locally. This predator-mediated response is consistent with a trade-off between mating success and risk of mortality due to predation. The results are the first to confirm risk-sensitive mating behaviour in free-ranging male guppies within a population, and demonstrate the potential importance of predators in influencing the relative use of alternative mating tactics in this species on a microgeographical scale in the wild.

Key words

Fish Guppy Poecilia Predation risk Mating tactic 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • J.-G. J. Godin
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BiologyMount Allison UniversitySaekvilleCanada

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