Addicted to Love: Does competition affect a male guppy’s response in courtship

Nicole Clapp, Trenton Avey, Brandon Richard Couch, Mackenzie Cejka, Scott Goeppner


Sexual selection determines which individuals will reproduce more successfully. We tested whether or not competition will increase a female guppy’s attractiveness to a male guppy. We designed an experiment that placed two identical females in an environment with one live male guppy. One female was accompanied by a male guppy model, while the other female was left alone. We hypothesized the test subject would prefer the side with the female-male guppy model and would thus exhibit more sexual behaviors towards the female who was accompanied by the male. We made this hypothesis based on the concept of mate-choice copying, which theorizes individuals will choose mates that have already displayed reproductive competence with other mates. In contrast to these beliefs, we found that the male test subjects spent a majority of the experiment with the individual female model. We believe this may be due to the lack of competition and the lone model’s accessibility as a potential mate.

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