A further examination of a pre-existing bias favouring a sword in the genusXiphophorus

Alexandra L. Basolo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

96 Scopus citations


Models of sexual selection have recently been broadened to include the pre-existing bias model. This model suggests that female preferences that result in the evolution of male traits can be established prior to the appearance of a male trait. Previous work suggests that in the genus Xiphophorus, which consists of swordless platyfish and sworded swordtails, female southern platyfish, X. maculatus, prefer conspecific males with surgically attached swords, despite phylogenetic evidence that the common ancestor of platyfish and swordtails was swordless. In the present study, female X. Maculatuswere found to prefer conspecific males with a naturally occurring component of the sword, an abbreviated lower caudal stripe. To investigate the possibility that the previously suggested pre-existing bias favouring a sword was merely an extension of a preference for this stripe specific to X. maculatus, whether female variable platyfish, X. variatus, also demonstrate a preference for males with swords was tested; this species has neither a sword nor any component of the sword. Female X. Variatuswere found to prefer conspecific males with swords to those without. This work suggests that X. variatusand X. maculatusshare a preference favouring a sword, despite the lack of a sword in these species.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)365-375
Number of pages11
JournalAnimal Behaviour
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1995

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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