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Contact: Graeme Baldwin
graeme.baldwin@biomedcentral.com
44-020-319-22165
BioMed Central

Female fish flaunt fins to attract a mate

IMAGE: A cichlid female displays her purple-shaded pelvic fin.

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For the first time, biologists have described the evolution of the size of a female trait which males use to choose a partner. The research, published in the open access journal BMC Evolutionary Biology, shows that male cichlid fish prefer females with a larger pelvic fin and that this drives females to grow fins out of proportion with their body size.

Sebastian Baldauf from the University of Bonn, Germany, worked with a team of researchers to study the effects of female ornamentation in the African cichlid fish Pelvicachromis taeniatus. He said, "In contrast to the well-known phenomenon of sexual selection influencing male traits, the expression of female ornaments in relation to body size is almost completely unexplored".

Female P. taeniatus develop exceedingly large pelvic fins, which differ from male fins in shape and color. During courtship, females fan out their violet pelvic fin, suggesting that the fin is actively used during mate choice. The researchers found that males clearly preferred females with a larger pelvic fin and that pelvic fins grew in a more disproportionate way than other fins on female fish. According to Baldauf, "Our study is, to our knowledge, the first to show that male choice might scale the proportions of a female sexual trait, and therefore has implications for the understanding of the relationship of female traits with body size".

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Notes to Editors

1. Male mate choice scales female ornament allometry in a cichlid fish
Sebastian A Baldauf, Theo CM Bakker, Fabian Herder, Harald Kullmann and Timo Thunken
BMC Evolutionary Biology (in press)

During embargo, article available here: http://www.biomedcentral.com/imedia/2609737883766970_article.pdf?random=971887

After the embargo, article available at the journal website: http://www.biomedcentral.com/bmcevolbiol/

Please name the journal in any story you write. If you are writing for the web, please link to the article. All articles are available free of charge, according to BioMed Central's open access policy.

Article citation and URL available on request at press@biomedcentral.com on the day of publication.

2. A picture of a female fish displaying her purple-shaded pelvic fin is available here: http://www.biomedcentral.com/graphics/email/images/baldauf.jpg

3. BMC Evolutionary Biology is an open access journal publishing original peer-reviewed research articles in all aspects of molecular and non-molecular evolution of all organisms, as well as phylogenetics and palaeontology. BMC Evolutionary Biology (ISSN 1471-2148) is indexed/tracked/covered by PubMed, MEDLINE, BIOSIS, CAS, EMBASE, Scopus, Zoological Record, Current Contents, CABI, Thomson Reuters (ISI) and Google Scholar.

4. BioMed Central (http://www.biomedcentral.com/) is an STM (Science, Technology and Medicine) publisher which has pioneered the open access publishing model. All peer-reviewed research articles published by BioMed Central are made immediately and freely accessible online, and are licensed to allow redistribution and reuse. BioMed Central is part of Springer Science+Business Media, a leading global publisher in the STM sector.



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