Black spots and female association preferences in a sexual/asexual mating complex (Poecilia, Poeciliidae, Teleostei)
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- Tobler, M., Plath, M., Burmeister, H. et al. Behav Ecol Sociobiol (2006) 60: 159. doi:10.1007/s00265-005-0152-2
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We investigated whether female association preferences for males are influenced by black spot disease (BSD), a parasite induced change of the host phenotype. We compared three different species of fish: a gynogenetic hybrid species, Poecilia formosa (amazon molly) and two sexual species (Poecilia latipinna and Poecilia mexicana), which were involved in the natural hybridisation leading to the amazon molly. Contrary to their sexual relatives, asexual amazon mollies significantly avoided images of males infected with black spot disease. We propose that amazon molly females have direct fitness benefits from choosing healthy males. The adaptive significance of the preference for BSD-uninfected males in the asexual amazon molly is yet unclear but may involve avoidance of predation or parasite infection as well as increased sperm availability.