Denis Cao Van Truong

Student Speaker | Étudiant.e
In predator-dense environments, prey species must be able to optimize their foraging ability and reproductive output while maintaining high investment into predator-avoidance behaviours in order to avoid the accumulation of lost opportunity costs. In the context of mating, chronic exposures to predation pressure can shape behavioural response patterns. While the long-term effects of predation on female mate choice patterns have been well studied, the impacts of short-term exposure to predation risks remain unexplored. Here, we tested the prediction that recent exposure to predation threats shapes female mate choice in Trinidadian guppies (Poecilia reticulata). Female guppies previously exposed to high vs. low predation conditions were tested in a two-choice test and the proportion of time spent near a brightly colored vs. dull male was recorded. Our results suggest that short-term predation pressure influenced the way in which female Trinidadian guppies choose mates. We found that while females exposed to high vs. low levels of predation risk did not exhibit any difference in the proportion of time spent near a preferred (brightly coloured) male, they did spend significantly more time in the central region (i.e. no choice area) of the test tank. These results suggest that while the final choice of a preferred male did not differ, females were more cautious when making a mate choice. Our results underline the influence of exposures to predation threat on the reproductive behaviours of prey individuals.