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Females often choose to associate with males that have exaggerated traits. In fishes, this may reflect an overall preference for larger size in a potential mate. Female zebrafish (Danio rerio) prefer males with larger bodies but not longer fins. The availability of mutant and transgenic strains of zebrafish make this a unique model system in which to study the role of phenotypic variation in social and sexual behavior. We used mutant strains of zebrafish with truncated (short fin) and exaggerated (long fin) fins to further examine female preferences for fin length in dichotomous association tests. Wild type females showed no preferences between wild type males and short fin mutant males or between wild type males and long fin mutant males. short fin females also showed no preference for short fin males or wild type males while long fin females preferred to associate with long fin males over wild type males. These results suggest that the single gene long fin mutation that results in altered fin morphological may also be involved in a related female association preference.


Gumm, J. M., Snekser, J. L., & Iovine, M. K. (2009). Fin-mutant female zebrafish (Danio rerio) exhibit differences in association preferences for male fin length. Behavioural Processes, 80(1), 35–38. doi:10.1016/j.beproc.2008.09.004



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