Inducible reproductive plasticity of the guppy Poecilia reticulata in response to predation cues

Ron Dzikowski*, Gideon Hulata, Sheenan Harpaz, Ilan Karplus

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Predation has long been described as one of the major driving forces in evolution. Guppies (Poecilia reticulata) from natural populations exposed to different predation pressures, were found to have different life history traits. Reproductive plasticity in response to direct predation cues has mainly been reported for invertebrates. The goals of the present study were to determine whether exposure to predation cues would induce reproductive phenotypic plasticity in female guppies and to determine whether the effective cues are visual, chemical, or a combination of both. In our first experiment, female guppies exposed to predation cues of the african cichlids Aulonocara nyassae increased their reproductive output by almost two fold, having larger brood-sizes and shorter brood-interval at the first spawn. This effect disappeared in the second spawn in the absence of predators. In the second experiment we found that exposure to the predators induced an increase in the brood-size regardless of whether the cue was: only visual, only chemical, visual and chemical or visual, chemical and tactile. The impacts of these cues were equally powerful on the tested variables and they did not have any cumulative effect. Similar to the results of the first experiment, this effect disappeared in the second spawn, in the absence of predation cues. The present study demonstrates a direct immediate and reversible effect of predation cues on guppy reproduction.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)776-782
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Experimental Zoology Part A: Comparative Experimental Biology
Issue number9
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2004


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