Mate Choice Copying in Female Humpback Limia (Limia nigrofasciata, Family Poeciliidae)


Lisa Munger, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego, CA 92093-0205, USA. E-mail:


Mate choice copying is a mechanism of non-independent mate choice that has important implications for models of evolution and sexual selection. In this study, we examined copying behavior in female humpback limia (Limia nigrofasciata). In three experiments, we allowed a focal female to choose between two males on opposite sides of an aquarium, then repeated the choice trial with the following modifications: (i) with no model female, (ii) with a model female added adjacent to the initially non-preferred male, or (iii) with the model female adjacent to the initially preferred male. In the absence of other females, focal females displayed consistent mate preferences, measured as a significantly higher amount of time spent near the preferred male in both parts of the trial. When a model female was added adjacent to the initially non-preferred male, focal females spent significantly more time near that male than they had in the first part of the trial, and significantly less time near the male they had initially preferred. When we placed the model female next to an initially preferred male as a control, the time spent by the focal female with the initially preferred or initially non-preferred male did not change significantly. We conclude that female mate choice copying may be important in humpback limia, causing focal females to spend more time in preference zones of males they had not at first preferred.