Artificial Visible Implant Elastomer (VIE) tags of different colour and symmetry do not influence mate choice in a cichlid

in Behaviour
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Experimental individuals are frequently marked with coloured tags for individual identification. Except for birds, the consequences of such artificial tagging on mate choice have been rarely investigated even though individuals often prefer naturally brightly coloured or symmetrically ornamented mates. We tested whether differently coloured Visible Implant Elastomer (VIE) tags influence female mate choice in rainbow kribs, Pelvicachromis pulcher. Females were allowed to simultaneously choose between a control and a VIE-marked male. The VIE-marked male carried two tags of the same colour (red, blue, green or white) set symmetrically or asymmetrically. Females did not show a preference for or avoidance of males carrying any of the colours compared to control males, no matter if the tags had been set symmetrically or asymmetrically. Although we found no discrimination for or against colour-tags, we highlight the importance of considering potential influences of colour-marks on mate choice in behavioural and evolutionary studies.

Artificial Visible Implant Elastomer (VIE) tags of different colour and symmetry do not influence mate choice in a cichlid

in Behaviour



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    (a) A typical male from our captive Pelvicachromis pulcher population, carrying a green VIE-tag (arrow). Positions of VIE-tags (black dots) in (b) symmetrical and (c) asymmetrical treatments. A fish received two tags of the same colour (red, blue, green or white) at either of the two shown combinations of positions of the symmetrical and asymmetrical treatment, respectively. (b), (c) Schematic view of fish from above.

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    The mean ± SE time females spent with a control and VIE-marked male during mate choice trials. Mean ± SE based on raw data. N=121 trials.

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    The mean ± SE time a female spent with a control and VIE-marked male during mate choice trials. Marked males carried two blue (a, b), green (c, d), red (e, f) or white (g, h) VIE marks in an asymmetrical (a, c, e, g) or symmetrical (b, d, f, h) manner. Mean ± SE based on raw data.


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