Aerial Jumping in the Trinidadian Guppy (Poecilia Reticulata)

PLoS One. 2013 Apr 16;8(4):e61617. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0061617. Print 2013.

Abstract

Many fishes are able to jump out of the water and launch themselves into the air. Such behavior has been connected with prey capture, migration and predator avoidance. We found that jumping behavior of the guppy Poecilia reticulata is not associated with any of the above. The fish jump spontaneously, without being triggered by overt sensory cues, is not migratory and does not attempt to capture aerial food items. Here, we use high speed video imaging to analyze the kinematics of the jumping behavior P. reticulata. Fish jump from a still position by slowly backing up while using its pectoral fins, followed by strong body trusts which lead to launching into the air several body lengths. The liftoff phase of the jump is fast and fish will continue with whole body thrusts and tail beats, even when out of the water. This behavior occurs when fish are in a group or in isolation. Geography has had substantial effects on guppy evolution, with waterfalls reducing gene flow and constraining dispersal. We suggest that jumping has evolved in guppies as a behavioral phenotype for dispersal.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology
  • Biological Evolution
  • Poecilia / physiology*

Grant support

Work was supported by a 2011 summer fellowship to DS from the Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole MA 02543, www.mbl.edu (no grant #). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.