Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 64, Issue 11, pp 1849–1855 | Cite as

A novel, sexually selected trait in poeciliid fishes: female preference for mustache-like, rostral filaments in male Poecilia sphenops

  • Ingo Schlupp
  • Rüdiger Riesch
  • Michael Tobler
  • Martin Plath
  • Jakob Parzefall
  • Manfred Schartl
Original Paper

Abstract

Female choice can often drive the elaboration of male traits, leading to the evolution of secondary sexual traits. In the Mexican molly, Poecilia sphenops (Poeciliidae), some males exhibit a mustache-like structure on the upper maxilla, the function of which has not been previously recognized. The mustache consists of epidermal outgrowths at the edge of the scales that appear to have no sensory function. Trait expression varies within as well as among populations of P. sphenops, but is not linked to male body size polymorphism. In mate choice experiments, female P. sphenops exhibited a visual mating preference for males with mustaches, suggesting that the trait may be sexually selected. Since the mating behavior of P. sphenops involves contact of the male’s snout and the female genital region prior to copulation, we hypothesize that the mustache may also convey tactile signals to the female.

Keywords

Mate choice Mating preference Sexual selection Structural ornaments 

Notes

Acknowledgments

We thank Marion Döbler, Kay Körner, and Dunja Lamatsch for their help in the field. Jens Poschadel helped with laboratory analyses and experiments. Ellen McCoy performed parts of the video playback experiment, and Anne Hansen kindly performed electron microscopy. We thank William Matthews for discussion. Nathan Franssen made the map in Fig. 2. Financial support came from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, the University of Oklahoma, and the Swiss National Science Foundation.

Ethical note

The experiments comply with the current laws of the country in which they were performed.

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

References

  1. Andersson M (1994) Sexual selection. Princeton University Press, PrincetonGoogle Scholar
  2. Andersson M, Iwasa Y (1996) Sexual selection. Trends Ecol Evol 11:53–58CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Basolo AL (1998) Evolutionary change in a receiver bias: a comparison of female preference functions. Proc R Soc Lond B Biol Sci 265:2223–2228CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Candolin U (2003) The use of multiple cues in mate choice. Biol Rev 78:575–595CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Coleman S (2009) Taxonomic and sensory biases in the mate choice literature: there are far to few studies of chemical and multimodal communication. Acta Ethologica 12:45–48Google Scholar
  6. Collette BB (1977) Epidermal breeding tubercles and bony contact organs in fishes. Symp Zool Soc Lond 1977:225–168Google Scholar
  7. Cooper BG, Goller F (2004) Multimodal signals: enhancement and constraint of song motor patterns by visual display. Science 303:544–546CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Cummings ME, Rosenthal GG, Ryan MJ (2003) A private ultraviolet channel in visual communication. Proc R Soc Lond Series B: Biol Sci 270:897–904CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Endler JA (1983) Natural and sexual selection on color patterns in poeciliid fishes. Environ Biol Fish 9:173–190CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Endler JA (1992) Signals, signal conditions and the direction of evolution. Am Nat 139:S125–S153CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Farr JA (1989) Sexual selection and secondary sexual differentiation in poeciliids: determinants of male success and the evolution of female choice. In: Meffe GK, Snelson FF Jr (eds) Ecology and evolution of livebearing fishes (Poeciliidae). Prentice Hall, Englewood, pp 91–123Google Scholar
  12. Fisher HS, Rosenthal GG (2006) Female swordtail fish use chemical cues to select well-fed mates. Anim Behav 72:721–725CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Hansen A, Finger TE (2000) Phyletic distribution of crypt-type olfactory receptor neurons in fishes. Brain Behav Evol 55:100–110CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Hebets EA, Cuasay K, Rivlin PK (2006) The role of visual ornamentation in female choice of a multimodal male courtship display. Ethology 112:1062–1070CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Hölldobler B (1999) Multimodal signals in ant communication. J Comp Physiol A 184:129–141CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Houde AE (1997) Sex, color, and mate choice in guppies. Princeton University Press, PrincetonGoogle Scholar
  17. Jacob A, Evanno G, Renai E, Sermier R, Wedekind C (2009) Male body size and breeding tubercles are both linked to intrasexual dominance and reproductive success. Anim Behav 77:823–829CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Kodric-Brown A (1993) Female choice of multiple male criteria in guppies: interacting effects dominance, coloration and courtship. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 32:415–420Google Scholar
  19. Kodric-Brown A, Johnson SC (2002) Ultraviolet reflectance patterns of male guppies enhance their attractiveness to females. Anim Behav 63:391–396CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Kodric-Brown A, Nicoletto PF (2001) Female choice in the guppy (Poecilia reticulata): the interaction between male color and display. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 50:346–351CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Landmann K, Parzefall J, Schluppi I (1999) A sexual preference in the Amazon molly, Poecilia formosa. Environ Biol Fish 56:325–331Google Scholar
  22. Lindholm A, Breden F (2002) Sex chromosomes and sexual selection in poeciliid fishes. Am Nat 160:S214–S224CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. MacLaren RD, Rowland WJ, Morgan N (2004) Female preferences for sailfin and body size in the sailfin molly, Poecilia latipinna. Ethology 110:363–379CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Magurran AE (2005) Evolutionary ecology: the Trinidadian guppy. Oxford University Press, OxfordCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. McLennan DA (2003) The importance of olfactory signals in the gasterosteid mating system: sticklebacks go multimodal. Biol J Linn Soc 80:555–572CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Miller RR (2005) Freshwater fishes of Mexico. University of Chicago Press, ChicagoGoogle Scholar
  27. Partan SR, Marler P (2005) Issues in the classification of multimodal communication signals. Am Nat 166:231–245CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  28. Parzefall J (1969) Zur vergleichenden Ethologie verschiedener Mollienesia-Arten einschließlich einer Höhlenform von M. sphenops. Behaviour 33:1–37CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  29. Parzefall J (2001) A review of morphological and behavioural changes in the cave molly, Poecilia mexicana, from Tabasco, Mexico. Environ Biol Fish 62:263–275CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Ptacek MB (1998) Interspecific mate choice in sailfin and shortfin species of mollies. Anim Behav 56:1145–1154CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  31. Riesch R, Schlupp I, Plath M (2008) Female sperm-limitation in natural populations of a sexual/asexual mating-complex (Poecilia latipinna, P. formosa). Biol Lett 4:266–269CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  32. Rosen DE, Tucker A (1961) Evolution of secondary sexual characters and sexual behavior patterns in a family of viviparous fishes (Cyprinodontyformes: Poeciliidae). Copeia 1961:201–212CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Rosenthal GG, Evans CS (1998) Female preference for swords in Xiphophorus helleri reflects a bias for large apparent size. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 95:4431–4436CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  34. Ryan MJ, Keddy-Hector AC (1992) Directional patterns of female mate choice and the role of sensory biases. Amer Nat 139:4–35CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Sabaj MH, Armbruster JW, Page LM (1999) Spawning in Ancistrus (Siluriformes: Loricariidae) with comments on the evolution of snout tentacles as a novel reproductive strategy: larval mimicry. Ichthyol Explor Freshw 10:217–229Google Scholar
  36. Schlüter A, Parzefall J, Schlupp I (1998) Female preference for symmetrical vertical bars in male sailfin mollies. Anim Behav 56:147–153CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  37. Schultz RJ, Miller RR (1971) Species of the Poecilia sphenops complex (Pisces: Poeciliidae) in Mexico. Copeia 1998:282–290CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Shohet AJ, Watt PJ (2004) Female association preferences based on olfactory cues in the guppy, Poecilia reticulata. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 55:363–369CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Uetz GW, Roberts JA (2002) Multisensory cues and multimodal communication in spiders: insights from video/audio playback studies. Brain Behav Evol 59:222–230CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  40. Walling CA, Royle NJ, Lindström J, Metcalfe NB (2010) Do female association preferences predict the likelihood of reproduction? Behav Ecol Sociobiol 64:541–548CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Wiley B, Collette B (1970) Breeding tubercles and contact organs in fishes: their occurrence, structure, and significance. Bull Am Mus Nat Hist 143:145–216Google Scholar
  42. Wong BBM, Rosenthal GG (2006) Female disdain for swords in a swordtail fish. Am Nat 167:136–140CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  43. Zimmerer EJKKD (1988) The inheritance of vertical barring (aggression and appeasement signals) in the pygmy swordtail Xiphophorus nigrensis (Poeciliidae: Teleostei). Copeia 1988:299–307CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ingo Schlupp
    • 1
    • 2
  • Rüdiger Riesch
    • 1
  • Michael Tobler
    • 3
  • Martin Plath
    • 4
  • Jakob Parzefall
    • 2
  • Manfred Schartl
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of ZoologyUniversity of OklahomaNormanUSA
  2. 2.Biozentrum GrindelUniversity of HamburgHamburgGermany
  3. 3.Departments of Biology and Wildlife and Fisheries SciencesTexas A&M UniversityCollege StationUSA
  4. 4.Department of Ecology and EvolutionJ.W. Goethe University of FrankfurtFrankfurt a.M.Germany
  5. 5.Physiological Chemistry IUniversity of WürzburgWürzburgGermany

Personalised recommendations