Environmental Biology of Fishes

, Volume 56, Issue 3, pp 333–342 | Cite as

The Use of Digitally-modified Videos to Study the Function of Ornamentation and Courtship in the Guppy, Poecilia reticulata

  • Paul F. Nicoletto
  • Astrid Kodric-Brown


The use of video playback, digitally-modified video images, and animations is a potentially powerful tool for exploring the interactions between morphological and behavioral components of complex sexually selected traits. The utility of digitally-modified video was evaluated by the responses of females to male images in which either the behavioral components of display or the colors of ornamentation were manipulated. Females were presented with paired male images that varied only in the size of the orange or blue spot on the body (19.1% vs. 8.6%), courtship duration (7 sec vs. 2.3 sec), or courtship rate (3 displays min-1 vs. 1 display min-1). Females preferred male images with more vigorous courtship displays (both duration and rate) but did not discriminate between images differing in spot size. The results of the present study suggest that females discriminate more strongly between variation in male behavior than in their morphological attributes. The results of morphological manipulations should be interpreted with caution, however, because several factors could have contributed to the lack of female responses to color spot variation. Among them are lowered resolution of the computer image, which fails to capture the precision and complexity of the color pattern. Despite these potential difficulties, digitally-modified video promises to be a powerful method to study complex visual communication systems, where the function of and interaction between the various morphological and behavioral components is as yet poorly understood.

female choice orange color spot blue color spot courtship intensity 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul F. Nicoletto
    • 1
  • Astrid Kodric-Brown
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of BiologyLamar UniversityBeaumontU.S.A. (e-mail
  2. 2.Department of BiologyUniversity of New MexicoAlbuquerqueU.S.A

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