The Loh Down On Science

Guppy Love

Finally--the science of male entourages explained.

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science

Saying, at least male guppy entourages.

Biologist Clelia Gasparini of the University of Padua was curious about guppy mating strategies. Females prefer colorful males. If a male with flashy gold spots is next to grayer less-spotted males? Females choose mister flashy spots.

Yet blah guppies abound, so they must be procreating. What gives? Do drab males have some strategy for scoring dates?

To find out, Gasparini set up an aquarium with Plexiglas partitions at each end. She placed a female guppy behind each partition. Then flanked each female with two males. One pair of males was gold-spotted. The other pair's spots? Duller.

In the tank’s center, she placed a lone male with moderate spots.

What happened? Each time she placed the lone male in the tank, he swam over to the duller males.

Gasparini says this shows that you look better if you are surrounded by ugly friends.

And a Ferrari. Or a deceptively luxurious fish castle.

 

The Loh Down on Science is produced by LDOS Media Lab, with 89.3 KPCC Pasadena, California. And made possible by the generous support of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

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