Preference polymorphism for coloration but no speciation in a population of Lake Victoria cichlids

I. van der Sluijs, J. J.M. van Alphen, O. Seehausen
2007 Behavioral Ecology  
Female mating preference based on male nuptial coloration has been suggested to be an important source of diversifying selection in the radiation of Lake Victoria cichlid fish. Initial variation in female preference is a prerequisite for diversifying selection; however, it is rarely studied in natural populations. In clear water areas of Lake Victoria, the sibling species Pundamilia pundamilia with blue males and Pundamilia nyererei with red males coexist, intermediate phenotypes are rare, and
more » ... ost females have species-assortative mating preferences. Here, we study a population of Pundamilia that inhabits turbid water where male coloration is variable from reddish to blue with most males intermediate. We investigated male phenotype distribution and female mating preferences. Male phenotype was unimodally distributed with a mode on intermediate color in 1 year and more blue-shifted in 2 other years. In mate choice experiments with females of the turbid water population and males from a clearer water population, we found females with a significant and consistent preference for P. pundamilia (blue) males, females with such preferences for P. nyererei (red) males, and many females without a preference. Hence, female mating preferences in this population could cause disruptive selection on male coloration that is probably constrained by the low signal transduction of the turbid water environment. We suggest that if environmental signal transduction was improved and the preference/color polymorphism was stabilized by negative frequency-dependent selection, divergent sexual selection might separate the 2 morphs into reproductively isolated species resembling the clear water species P. pundamilia and P. nyererei.
doi:10.1093/beheco/arm120 fatcat:rcjp3c3vdjdn5mkoku2ty4bs7e