, Volume 94, Issue 8, pp 651–656 | Cite as

Developmental environment, cultural transmission, and mate choice copying

Original Paper


Using female mate choice copying as a rudimentary form of cultural transmission, this study provides evidence that social environment during development has a significant effect on the tendency to use culturally acquired information. Groups of newborn guppies (Poecilia reticulata) were raised for 35 days in 1 of 5 “developmental environments”. Groups of 15 newborns were raised in pools with no adults (treatment 1), both adult male and female guppies (treatments 2 and 3), only adult females (treatment 4) or only adult males (treatment 5). Mature females raised in treatments 1 and 2, but not treatments 3, 4, and 5, copied the mate choice of others. Treatments 1 and 2 correspond to social structures that guppies experience during their development in the wild. Newborn guppies swim together in shoals (analogous to treatment 1). As they mature, juveniles join schools of adult males and females (analogous to treatments 2). At no time during the normal developmental process are juveniles found with males, but only unreceptive females (as was the case for long periods in treatment 3) or in the presence of adults of only one sex (analogous to treatments 4 and 5). As such, normal developmental environments prime guppies for cultural transmission, while unnatural environments fail to do so.



I thank Cherie Anderson and Holly-Swain Ewald for the assistance in running the experiments and Dana Dugatkin for proofreading the manuscript. I am indebted to three anonymous reviewers who commented on an earlier version of this paper. This work was supported by grant NICHD R01HD42245.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of BiologyUniversity of LouisvilleLouisvilleUSA

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