The Effect of Free Moving versus Stationary Female Guppy (Poecilia reticulata) on Male Guppy Courtship Behaviors

Rachel Kaiser, Lexie Leake, Ellie Polsen, Samantha Price, Jeremy Kaplan, Matthew Newman


In studies of mating behavior, guppies (Poecilia reticulata) have been a favorable test subject to examine the specific traits that they are drawn to. There have been many experiments testing the effects of bright colors (Preece et. al. 2015), species type (Norris et. al. 2017), and caudal fin size (Bell et. al. 2016) on frequency of courtship displays. There have been studies examining the relationship between courtship displays and movement of the model female guppies, but they have resulted in conflicting results which we aim to clarify in our study (Hummel et. al. 2016; Vest et. al. 2018). We hypothesized that a male guppy would display more courtship behaviors to a female fish model that is in motion rather than a female fish model that is completely stationary. In this experiment, we tested two true yellow control size female model guppies (model number 107001) against each other with one model suspended from the presentation apparatus by a fishing line and two paperclips and the other suspended by a piano wire. We outline ten trials with ten different fish and recorded the average time the male guppy spent with each model as well as the average number of courtship behaviors displayed toward those respective models; we found results indicating that male guppies do not have a preference for a sexual mate in motion. We found results indicated no preference for mobile versus immobile guppy models potentially due to the male guppy being unable to discern the mobile female model as its own species. We expect that this experiment will help deepen the understanding of guppy mating behaviors in regards to a fish that is immobile versus mobile.

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