Patterns of Female Mate Choice in Sympatric Cichlid Fishes of the Genus Labeotropheus

Jacob Grudnowski, “Patterns of Female Mate Choice in Sympatric Cichlid Fishes of the Genus Labeotropheus
Mentor: Michael Pauers, College of General Studies – Mathematics & Natural Sciences

Sexual selection, especially female mate choice, has been an important force in the rapid speciation of the cichlid fishes of Lake Malawi; the need to quickly and accurately identify and choose appropriate mates is paramount in developing and maintaining reproductive isolation among species. In order to test the hypothesis that females should exhibit strong preferences for conspecific males, we examined how the females of two closely-related, sympatric species, Labeotropheus fuelleborni and L. trewavasae, selected their mates. We offered a gravid female a choice between two males, one conspecific and one heterospecific, and counted the numbers of interactions between the female and both males, and also measured the amount of time a female spent with each male. These results will give further credence to the hypothesis that sexual selection was an important force in the rapid speciation of cichlids in Lake Malawi, and will additionally explore how reproductive isolation is maintained among closely-related, sympatric species.

Please follow this link to the forthcoming article, “Assortative aggression among males in a sympatric pair of Labeotropheus from Lake Malaŵi, Africa” in the Journal of Fish Biology.

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