An Investigation into the Influence of Hunger-State on the Mate-Choice Copying Phenomenon in Trinidadian Guppies (Poecilia reticulata)
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
This study investigates the effect of hunger state on the propensity for female Trinidadian guppies (Poecilia reticulata) to mate-choice copy. It is predicted that the hungrier the individual, the more likely they will use social information over asocial information when making effective decisions. This prediction is based on evidence suggesting that an individual should rely on other sources of information when asocial information is costly (Hoppitt and Laland, 2013; Bandura, 1977). An evolutionary trade-off between cheap yet inaccurate data, and expensive and accurate data (Boyd and Richerson, 1985). This study is a new and novel approach to the reversal experiment outlined by Dugatkin and Godin (1992) where females make a decision based on asocial information alone, and are then offered social information influencing the contrary decision. The female is then allowed to re-take that decision, pitting asocial information against the new social information. This experiment aimed to teach female guppies an association using a colour cue and the location of a high-quality male. The association would act as a female’s asocial information, and the behaviour of a demonstrator female would provide social information. These females were starved to varying degrees and this was then statistically analysed alongside their decision making. This study produces evidence to suggest that the hungrier the female, the more likely she is to copy the demonstrator’s decision. This study then debates these findings. This paper shows an original and exciting approach to state-dependent mate-choice copying phenomenon found by female guppies that may stimulate new research in this field.
MbyRes in Biological Sciences