3D-printed fish models for testing guppy mate choice

John Stewart, Michael E. Moore, J. Lance Forshee, Kathryn Boyles, Moriah G. Harmon, Jason N. Bruck, Donald P. French

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


A study of proximate causation of mate choice can help to engage students in the topic of sexual selection. We developed a new and flexible method for observing mate choice behavior in guppies (Poecilia reticulata.) Students observe male preference for 3D-printed fish models of female fish of different sizes, colors, and shapes to determine what traits are important in sexual selection. In their first week, the students expose a male guppy to a standard suite of different 3D-printed models. They then request modifications for the next week and the week afterward. The investigation engages students’ abilities to carefully observe animals, quantify those observations, and use evolutionary reasoning to communicate their findings in a scientific manuscript peer-reviewed by anonymous new scientists. The use of 3D printers overcomes a hurdle (crafting accurate models that can be manipulated) making this type of authentic research accessible to a large and
broader audience.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTested Studies for Laboratory Teaching
Subtitle of host publicationProceedings for the 39th Workshop/Conference of the Association for Biology Laboratory Education (ABLE), June 13-16, 2017
EditorsK. McMahon
Place of PublicationUSA
PublisherAssociation for Biology Laboratory Education
Number of pages13
ISBN (Print)1-890444-17-0
Publication statusPublished - 13 Jun 2017
Event39th Association for Biology Laboratory Education Meeting (ABLE) - University of Wisconsin – Madison, Madison, United States
Duration: 13 Jun 201716 Jun 2017
Conference number: 39


Conference39th Association for Biology Laboratory Education Meeting (ABLE)
Abbreviated titleABLE
Country/TerritoryUnited States
Internet address


  • Guppies
  • Ethology
  • Sexual selection
  • 3D-Printing


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