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The impact of social context on male mate preference in a unisexual–bisexual mating complex


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Male sailfin mollies Poecilia latipinna were tested in five different treatments that varied in the relative frequency of heterospecific gynogens (Amazon molly Poecilia formosa) to conspecific females to determine whether social interactions among males within a population causes some males to mate with heterospecific females. Male P. latipinna inseminated a significantly higher proportion of conspecific females and fertilized a significantly higher number of conspecific eggs regardless of the treatment. Nonetheless, preference for conspecific females was not exclusive as a range of 20 to 50% of heterospecific females were fertilized. Social interactions among males may best explain the results and may therefore play an important role in the maintenance of unisexual–bisexual mating complexes.