Non-Visual Mate Choice Ability in a Cavefish (Poecilia mexicana) is not Mechanosensory



Ingo Schlupp, Department of Biology, University of Oklahoma, 730 Van Vleet Oval, Norman, OK 73019, USA.



One of the most important decisions any female has to make is selecting a mate. In many animals, this involves a strong visual component, but in cave-dwelling fishes, mate preferences have to be exercised in darkness. In a cave-dwelling Poeciliid fish, the cave molly (Poecilia mexicana), visual mate choice is still possible because they have functional, albeit reduced eyes. In a previous laboratory study, it was documented that females prefer larger males in light and in darkness. In the present study, we investigated the role of the mechanosensory lateral line in this mate preference. We temporarily knocked out the lateral line using antibiotics. We found that even in the functional absence of the lateral line, females showed a clear preference for larger males, indicating that the lateral line is not crucial for mate choice. This points toward a strong role of chemical communication in cave molly mate choice.