Evaluation of female mate choice cues in a group of Lake Malawi mbuna (Cichlidae)

Rebecca Jordan, Karen Kellogg, Francis Juanes, Jay Stauffer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations


The mechanisms that underlie the diversity of cichlids in the East African Great Lakes are poorly understood. Sexual selection through female choice based on male body coloration has often been suggested as a driving force behind the speciation of these fishes. The objectives of this study were to investigate, through mate choice trials, the cues that guide species-isolating female choice. In a group of sympatric Lake Malawi mbuna (rock-dwelling fish), we investigated both visual and chemical cues that might guide female choice by giving gravid females a choice between a heterospecific and a conspecific male. Visual cues, in contrast to olfactory cues, were sufficient to stimulate courtship and thus guide female choice of males. Furthermore, in contrast to other studies on related species, we found that females courted only with conspecifics even if color was not a cue. Species-isolating female choice is likely based primarily on visual information.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)181-186
Number of pages6
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 26 2003

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Aquatic Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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