Rapid and socially induced change of a badge of status

Authors

  • S. B. Rhodes,

    1. Department of Zoology, University of Oklahoma, 730 Van Vleet Oval, Norman, OK 73019, U.S.A.
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    • Present address: Department of Biological Sciences, Florida International University, 11200 SW 8th St, Miami, FL 33199, U.S.A.

  • I. Schlupp

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Zoology, University of Oklahoma, 730 Van Vleet Oval, Norman, OK 73019, U.S.A.
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Tel.: +1 405 325 4908; email: schlupp@ou.edu

Abstract

This paper reports a new aspect of male signalling in the green swordtail Xiphophorus hellerii. Males are highly ornamented and possess a sword (an extension of the caudal fin), as well as a lateral stripe that has been shown to be a badge of status. Males of one natural population, however, were found to quickly change the colour of their lateral stripe to red when socially dominant over other males and black when subdominant, thereby exploiting the female preference for red stripes while dominant, and avoiding the costs of male aggression while subdominant.

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