Fish and robot dancing together: bluefin killifish females respond differently to the courtship of a robot with varying color morphs

Bioinspir Biomim. 2014 Sep;9(3):036021. doi: 10.1088/1748-3182/9/3/036021.


The experimental integration of bioinspired robots in groups of social animals has become a valuable tool to understand the basis of social behavior and uncover the fundamental determinants of animal communication. In this study, we measured the preference of fertile female bluefin killifish (Lucania goodei) for robotic replicas whose aspect ratio, body size, motion pattern, and color morph were inspired by adult male killifish. The motion of the fish replica was controlled via a robotic platform, which simulated the typical courtship behavior observed in killifish males. The positional preferences of females were measured for three different color morphs (red, yellow, and blue). While variation in preference was high among females, females tend to spend more time in the vicinity of the yellow painted robot replicas. This preference may have emerged because the yellow robot replicas were very bright, particularly in the longer wavelengths (550–700 nm) compared to the red and blue replicas. These findings are in agreement with previous observations in mosquitofish and zebrafish on fish preference for artificially enhanced yellow pigmentation.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomimetics / instrumentation*
  • Biomimetics / methods*
  • Color*
  • Courtship
  • Equipment Design
  • Equipment Failure Analysis
  • Female
  • Fundulidae / physiology*
  • Male
  • Robotics / instrumentation*
  • Robotics / methods*
  • Sexual Behavior, Animal / physiology*