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No association between brain size and male sexual behavior in the guppy


Animal behavior is remarkably variable at all taxonomic levels. Over the last decades, research on animal behavior has focused on understanding ultimate processes. Yet, it has progressively become more evident that to fully understand behavioral variation, ultimate explanations need to be complemented with proximate ones. In particular, the mechanisms generating variation in sexual behavior remain an open question. Variation in aspects of brain morphology has been suggested as a plausible mechanism underlying this variation. However, our knowledge of this potential association is based almost exclusively on comparative analyses. Experimental studies are needed to establish causality and bridge the gap between microand macroevolutionary mechanisms concerning the link between brain and sexual behavior. We used male guppies that had been artificially selected for large or small relative brain size to study this association. We paired males with females and scored the full known set of male and female sexual behaviors described in guppies. We found several previously demonstrated associations between male traits, male behavior and female behavior. Females responded more strongly towards males that courted more and males with more orange coloration. Also, larger males and males with less conspicuous coloration attempted more coerced copulations. However, courting, frequency of coerced copulation attempts, total intensity of sexual behavior, and female response did not differ between largeand small-brained males. Our data suggest that relative brain size is an unlikely mechanism underlying variation in sexual behavior of the male guppy. We discuss these findings in the context of the conditions under which relative brain size might affect male sexual behavior.

In CurrZool.

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