A test of sensory exploitation in the swordtail characin (Corynopoma riisei) based on colour matching between female prey and a male ornament
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The sensory exploitation hypothesis states that pre-existing biases in female sensory systems may generate strong selection on male signals to match such biases. As environmental conditions differ between populations, sexual preferences resulting from natural selection are expected to vary as well. The swordtail characin (Corynopoma riisei) is a species in which males carry a flag-like ornament growing from the operculum that has been proposed to function as a prey mimic to attract females. Here, we investigated if female plasticity in feeding preferences is associated with plasticity in preference for an artificial male ornament in this species. Females were trained for 10 days by offering them differently coloured food items and were then tested for changes in preferences for differently coloured artificial male ornaments according to foraging experience. We found a rapid and pronounced change in female preference for the colouration of the artificial ornament according to food training. Thus our results support the possibility that sensory exploitation may act as a driving force for female preferences for male ornaments in this species.
KeywordsSexual selection Female mate choice Corynopoma riisei Sensory drive Cognition Learning
Thanks to Ted Morrow, Göran Arnqvist, Björn Rogell, Simone Immler, Amber Rice and Fernando Mateos-González for comments on the manuscript. Thanks also to Björn Rogell and Arild Husby for help with the statistical analyses and Anders Ödeen for help with producing the reflectance spectra. This study was funded by the Swedish Research Council (grant to N. K.) and was approved by Uppsala Animal Research Ethical Board (application C263/6).
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