SEARCH

SEARCH BY CITATION

Abstract

One potential opportunity cost associated with direct assessment of males by females is lost foraging time. It has been hypothesized previously that females may reduce their mate-assessment time by copying the known mate choice of other females. If mate copying reduces mate-assessment time, then females that engage in copying behaviour should have more time available for foraging. In this study, we experimentally investigated the effects of hunger, and thus the immediate need for energy, on the tendency of female guppies, Poecilia reticulata, to copy the mate choice of others. We manipulated the hunger level of individual females in four different treatments by either depriving them of any food or giving them unlimited access to food for 24 h or 48 h prior to testing their mating preference. Each female was then allowed to choose between two stimulus males, matched for size and colour, after having viewed another female (the model) apparently choose one of the males as a mate. We predicted that hungry female guppies should be more likely to engage in mate-choice copying than more recently fed females, when given the opportunity. Contrary to our a priori prediction, only the most well-fed females (with prior access to feed for 48 h) copied the mate choice of the model female significantly more often than expected by chance. Females in each of the other three treatments chose randomly between the two stimulus males presented.