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Keywords:

  • courtship;
  • olfactory cues;
  • pheromones;
  • serotonin;
  • stress

Abstract

Pheromones constitute an important cue used by both males and females during courtship. Here, we investigate the effect of male pheromones on female behaviour in the swordtail characin (Corynopoma riisei), a species of fish where males have a caudal pheromone gland which has been suggested to affect female behaviour during courtship. We subjected female C. riisei to male courtship pheromones and investigated the effect on both female behaviour and brain serotonergic activity levels compared to a control group. While no difference in serotonergic activity was found, the pheromone-treated females showed lower stress levels compared to the control group. Furthermore, pheromone-treated females increased locomotor activity over time, while a decrease in locomotor activity was observed in the control group. These results suggest that the male courtship pheromones may serve to reduce female stress and increase female activity, possibly to aid males in gaining access to females and facilitating sperm transfer.