Presence of an audience influences habitat use in male guppies Poecilia reticulate

Authors:  Meghan C. Pierse and Kady L. Loubier
Institution:  University of New England
Date:  August 2010

Although much work has focused on how the presence of an audience may influence aggression and mate choice, little is known about how this may impact other behaviors such as resource defense or habitat use. While the social behavior of guppies, Poecilia reticulata, has been extensively studied in the contexts of predator inspection and mate choice copying, the existence of true audience effects has not been investigated in this species. P. reticulata do not have a resource-based mating system, but males have been observed to form dominance hierarchies and compete for access to females. Male P. reticulata behavior may be altered when an audience is present to maintain access to females. To test this, pairs of male P. reticulata (n = 60) were allowed to interact in the presence of another male, a female, or no audience. Our findings show that male P. reticulata spent more time in the resource zone when an audience was present (p = 0.05). Males spent the most time in the audience zone and chase one another the most when a female audience was present (p = 0.05). These findings provide an important addition to the existing literature on audience effects by showing that the presence of other individuals can affect more than courtship and aggressive behavior.