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Biology 2018, 7(3), 40; https://doi.org/10.3390/biology7030040

Test of the Deception Hypothesis in Atlantic Mollies Poecilia mexicana—Does the Audience Copy a Pretended Mate Choice of Others?

1
Research Group of Ecology and Behavioral Biology, Department of Chemistry-Biology, Institute of Biology, University of Siegen, Adolf-Reichwein-Str. 2, 57076 Siegen, Germany
2
CNRS, Université Toulouse, IRD, UMR 5174, EDB (Évolution & Diversité Biologique), 118 Route de Narbonne, F-31062 Toulouse CEDEX 9, France
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 29 March 2018 / Revised: 6 July 2018 / Accepted: 10 July 2018 / Published: 13 July 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Evolution of Mating Choice)
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Abstract

Animals often use public information for mate-choice decisions by observing conspecifics as they choose their mates and then copying this witnessed decision. When the copier, however, is detected by the choosing individual, the latter often alters its behavior and spends more time with the previously non-preferred mate. This behavioral change is called the audience effect. The deception hypothesis states that the choosing individual changes its behavior to distract the audience from the preferred mate. The deception hypothesis, however, only applies if the audience indeed copies the pretended mate choice of the observed individual. So far, this necessary prerequisite has never been tested. We investigated in Atlantic molly males and females whether, first, focal fish show an audience effect, i.e., alter their mate choices in the presence of an audience fish, and second, whether audience fish copy the mate choice of the focal fish they had just witnessed. We found evidence that male and female Atlantic mollies copy the pretended mate choice of same-sex focal fish. Therefore, a necessary requirement of the deception hypothesis is fulfilled. Our results show that public information use in the context of mate choice can be costly. View Full-Text
Keywords: sexual selection; public information; male mate choice; female mate choice; audience effect; mate-choice copying; social learning; eavesdropping; Atlantic molly; Poecilia mexicana sexual selection; public information; male mate choice; female mate choice; audience effect; mate-choice copying; social learning; eavesdropping; Atlantic molly; Poecilia mexicana
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Witte, K.; Baumgärtner, K.; Röhrig, C.; Nöbel, S. Test of the Deception Hypothesis in Atlantic Mollies Poecilia mexicana—Does the Audience Copy a Pretended Mate Choice of Others? Biology 2018, 7, 40.

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