Female mating preferences for male morphological traits used in species and mate recognition in the Mexican sailfin mollies, Poecilia velifera and Poecilia petenensis
We tested whether sexually selected morphological traits in the sailfin mollies, Poecilia velifera and Poecilia petenensis, are also used in species recognition. Our first experiment, using live males as stimuli and providing females with olfactory as well as visual cues, found that females of both sailfin species preferred conspecific males to males of shortfin species. However, neither species preferred conspecific males when compared with heterospecific sailfin males, suggesting that
... g reproductive isolation is not well developed between them. Our second experiment, providing females with only visual cues when distinguishing between live males, found that females of P. velifera preferred the larger of 2 stimulus males, regardless of whether the larger male was a conspecific or an heterospecific sailfin male. Such a preference for the larger sized male was not found in P. petenensis. To further investigate the role of the dorsal "sailfin" in species recognition, we used model males that varied only in the species identity of their dorsal fins. Females of both sailfin species preferred conspecific models with conspecific sailfins to those with dorsal fins of the shortfin species. In addition, females of P. velifera preferred the model with the largest sailfin, regardless of species identity. Similarly to the live male experiments, females of P. petenensis did not distinguish between conspecific and heterospecific sailfins. Overall, our study suggests that females of P. velifera have a generalized preference for larger males and that species-specific differences in sailfin shape do not lead to premating reproductive isolation between these 2 sailfin species.