Environmental effects on social interaction networks and male reproductive behaviour in guppies, Poecilia reticulata

M Edenbrow, S K Darden, I W Ramnarine, J P Evans, Richard James, D P Croft

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32 Citations (SciVal)


In social species, the structure and patterning of social interactions have implications for the opportunities for sexual interactions. We used social network analysis to explore the effect of habitat structural complexity on the social and sexual behaviour of male Trinidadian guppies. We used replicated semi-natural pools in which we quantified male social network structure and reproductive behaviour under simple and complex habitats. In addition, we compared two populations of guppies that differed in their evolutionary history of predation (one high, one low). The level of habitat complexity did not significantly affect social network structure. However, social networks differed significantly between populations, which we suggest is due to differences in predator experience. Males from the high-predation population had greater overall social network differentiation and fewer male-male associations than their low-risk counterparts. Contrary to our prediction that males would associate more frequently with relatively large (more fecund) females, we observed a negative correlation between female size and the strength of male-female associations. We also found no effect of population or habitat complexity on either harassment or sexual network structures. There was, however, a significant interaction between habitat structure and population on the expression of reproductive strategies, with high-predation males expressing fewer sigmoid displays in the complex habitat and the opposite trend in low-predation males. We suggest this pattern is driven by population differences in male-male competition. We discuss our results in the context of the evolution of social structure and male reproductive strategies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)551-558
Number of pages8
JournalAnimal Behaviour
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2011


  • social network
  • reproductive strategy
  • Poecilia reticulata
  • sexual selection
  • strategy
  • sexual network
  • guppy
  • predation risk
  • harassment network


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