Swim Right or Left? The Effects of Columnaris on the Mating Behavior of Poecilla Reticulata

Brian Riggione, Avery Schick, Shante Seals, Kendall Smith, Eric Bates


Poecilla reticulata (guppies) are used as test subjects for scientists when they are testing mating behavior. Mate choice is when the mate is chosen based off of physical attributes. Mating choice is influenced by several factors such as size, color, and overall health. We conducted an experiment with the goal of exploring how diseased appearance female guppies have on mating choice and behavior in male guppies. In order to observe this, we placed a single male guppy in the fish tank with two female guppies on each side of the tank: a neutral color control guppy and a neutral colored experimental guppy with white spots. The white spots are used to mimic the disease Columnaris in fish. We then recorded the amount of time the male guppy spent at each side as well as the different mating behaviors represented. We hypothesized that the male guppy will show the most guppy mating preference toward the female control model without the disease appearance. We believe this is because of innate instinct by the male guppy to have preference towards the guppy with the highest fitness. The results from our experiment concluded that there was a favor towards the control guppy in comparison to the experimental guppy. This information is beneficial for further research conducted in terms of aquatic life and diseases in fish and other animals.

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