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Water turbidity–induced alterations in coloration and courtship behavior of male guppies (Poecilia reticulata)

Abstract

Water turbidity deteriorates visibility and thereby may change the physiology and behavior of aquatic animals that rely on vision. In the guppy fish (Poecilia reticulata), a key element in the mating behavior and reproductive success of males is female mate choice, which is predominantly based on visual signals. Females choose attractive males based on body coloration, and males court females by displaying their coloration. Here, we demonstrate that guppy males exhibit morphological and behavioral adjustments in response to changes in the visual environment. Males reared in turbid water had more conspicuous coloration than males reared in clear water, with higher intensity of carotenoid-based and ultraviolet colors, but not a larger area of red spots on the body. However, they performed less courtship displays in turbid water than males reared in clear water performed in clear water. Thus, increased coloration in turbid-water males was not accompanied by increased effort to display it. Although our findings demonstrated developmental plasticity in mating-related traits, turbidity-induced alteration in coloration did not match behavior change as could be predicted by favoring male attractiveness.

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Data Availability

The datasets analyzed during the current study are available in the Harvard Dataverse repository, https://doi.org/10.7910/DVN/G3VHEC

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Acknowledgements

We also would like to thank the Physiology Department of the Institute of Biosciences of São Paulo State University – Botucatu for all the support they provided in this project.

Funding

This work was supported by the Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo (FAPESP) under Grant number 2016/01567-2.

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Contributions

Conceptualization: Bruno Camargo-dos-Santos, Bruno Bastos Gonçalves. Formal analysis: Bruno Camargo-dos-Santos, Bruno Bastos Gonçalves; Funding Acquisition: Bruno Camargo-dos-Santos, Percília Cardoso Giaquinto. Investigation: Bruno Camargo-dos-Santos. Methodology: Bruno Camargo-dos-Santos, Bruno Bastos Gonçalves. Project administration: Bruno Camargo-dos-Santos, Percília Cardoso Giaquinto. Resources: Bruno Camargo-dos-Santos, Bruno Bastos Gonçalves, Percília Cardoso Giaquinto. Supervision: Percília Cardoso Giaquinto; Visualization: Bruno Camargo-dos-Santos. Writing—original draft preparation: Bruno Camargo-dos-Santos, Bruno Bastos Gonçalves, Percília Cardoso Giaquinto. Writing—review and editing: Bruno Camargo-dos-Santos, Marina Sanson Bellot, Isabela Inforzato Guermandi, Assaf Barki, Percília Cardoso Giaquinto.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Percília Cardoso Giaquinto.

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Ethics approval

All procedures were approved by Ethical Committee for Animal Research of São Paulo State University (UNESP), Campus Botucatu (CEUA – protocol#1126).

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All authors consent to participate in this manuscript.

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All authors agreed with the content and gave explicit consent to submit and that they obtained consent from the responsible authorities at the institute/organization where the work has been carried out.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing interests.

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Camargo-dos-Santos, B., Gonçalves, B.B., Bellot, M.S. et al. Water turbidity–induced alterations in coloration and courtship behavior of male guppies (Poecilia reticulata). acta ethol 24, 127–136 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10211-021-00369-8

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10211-021-00369-8

Keywords

  • Conspicuousness
  • Courtship display
  • Developmental plasticity
  • Ultraviolet coloration
  • Carotenoid-based coloration