Size-assortative shoaling in the guppy (Poecilia reticulata): The role of active choice
Many fish species exhibit size-assortative shoaling, which is often thought to be driven by predation risk. Recent fieldwork has revealed that guppies (Poecilia reticulata) are more size assorted in high-predation populations than in low-predation ones. However, size assortment does nonetheless occur in some low-predation populations, suggesting that predation is unlikely the sole driving force behind size-assortment. Here, we investigated in the laboratory the potential role of active choice in size-assortative shoaling in wild-caught female guppies originating from two populations of the same river system in Trinidad. Small or large focal females from each population were offered a binary choice of shoaling with either four small female conspecifics or four large ones. Observed shoaling preferences depended on the body size of the focal fish, suggesting phenotype-mediated conflict over group composition. Large focal fish preferred to shoal with the size-matched stimulus shoal of large fish. In contrast, small focal fish did not shoal assortatively but also preferred to shoal with larger females. Our results suggest that size-assortative shoaling in female guppies is likely to be due to factors other than active choice, such as habitat segregation and sexual harassment.
Jones, K.A. (Katherine A.), Croft, D.P. (Darren P.), Ramnarine, I.W. (Indar W.), & Godin, J.-G.J. (2010). Size-assortative shoaling in the guppy (Poecilia reticulata): The role of active choice. Ethology, 116(2), 147–154. doi:10.1111/j.1439-0310.2009.01727.x