Sexual harassment from male guppies is so bad that long-suffering females will risk their lives to escape it, according to new research from Dr. Safi Darden and Dr. Darren Croft from Bangor University.
Male guppies spend most of their time displaying their brightly-coloured bodies to females in the hope of attracting a mate. The choosy females will usually only mate with the most attractive, high-quality males to ensure the production of strong offspring. If his courtship display is rejected, the male will often attempt to sneak a mating with his chosen female when she is not looking.
Avoiding the relentless male harassment uses up precious resources such as time and energy. This in turn reduces the time available for food foraging, and energy for growth and reproduction.
The researchers studied guppy behaviour in a Trinidad river and found that the females are segregating the sexes by choosing to spend time in areas where there are high numbers of predators. The brightly-coloured males are far more likely to attract the predators than the dull brown females, so they keep their distance.
Dr Croft explains, “Much like humans, female guppies produce relatively few eggs and give birth to live offspring. They don’t lay their eggs for a seasonal spawning but keep them inside their bodies where they are fertilised by the males. Because they are not reliant on seasons, the females have a continuous battle to keep the males at bay – so they are resorting to extreme measures to avoid unwelcome attention.”
Funded by the Natural Environment Research Council.
Article: Safi Darden and Dr Darren Croft, ‘Male harassment drives females to alter habitat use and leads to segregation of the sexes’, Biology Letters.
- PHYSICAL SCIENCES
- EARTH SCIENCES
- LIFE SCIENCES
- SOCIAL SCIENCES
Subscribe to the newsletter
Stay in touch with the scientific world!
Know Science And Want To Write?
- Are We Giving Up On Cardiac Arrest Patients Too Soon?
- E. Coli: The Ideal Transport For Next-gen Vaccines?
- Artificial Pancreas Likely To Be Available By 2018
- How A Former Naturopath Can Help Unravel The Trickery of Alternative Medicine
- When Suppressing Immunity Is A Good Thing
- Swarm Bots Kill Mass Shooter
- Thinking 'I Can Do Better' Really Can Improve Performance, Study Finds
- "The etymology of the word medicine starts long before western/scientific medicine. Some definitions..."
- "A side note to your side note: agreed, 'side effects' are just effects of a drug. But who wants..."
- "Britt, I admire your ethics in standing up for what you believe is right, and for sacrificing your..."
- "Agreed, many people tend to jump the gun when they see an article like his and don’t read down..."
- "One other thing. It's kind of absurd to argue that if you don't have a solution you can't discuss..."