Directional sexual selection on chroma and within-pattern colour contrast in Labeotropheus fuelleborni

Proc Biol Sci. 2004 Dec 7;271 Suppl 6(Suppl 6):S444-7. doi: 10.1098/rsbl.2004.0215.


Speciation via intersexual selection on male nuptial colour pattern is thought to have been a major force in promoting the explosive speciation of African haplochromine cichlids, yet there is very little direct empirical evidence of directional preferences within populations. In this study, we used objective spectrophotometry and analyses based on visual physiology to determine whether females of the Katale population of Labeotropheus fuelleborni, a Lake Malawi haplochromine, prefer males that have higher chroma and more within-pattern colour contrast. In paired male preference tests, female Katale L. fuelleborni showed increasing preferences for males with more relatively saturated colours on their flanks. They also showed increasing preferences for males with relatively higher contrast levels among flank elements. This is the first empirical evidence, to our knowledge, for male colour as a directionally sexually selected trait within a haplochromine cichlid population.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cichlids / physiology*
  • Contrast Sensitivity / physiology
  • Female
  • Fresh Water
  • Malawi
  • Male
  • Observation
  • Pigmentation / physiology*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Selection, Genetic*
  • Sexual Behavior, Animal / physiology*
  • Spectrophotometry
  • Video Recording