Consequences of thermal acclimation for the mating behaviour and swimming performance of female mosquito fish.

Ian Alistair Johnston, C H L Condon, I A Johnston

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22 Citations (Scopus)


The mating system of eastern mosquito fish ( Gambusia holbrooki) is dominated by male sexual coercion, where all matings are forced and females never appear to cooperate and actively avoid all attempts. Previous research has shown that male G. holbrooki offer a model system for examining the benefits of reversible thermal acclimation for reproductive success, but examining the benefits to female avoidance behaviour has been difficult. In this study, we examined the ability of non-male-deprived female G. holbrooki to avoid forced-coercive matings following acclimation to either 18 or 30 degrees C for six weeks ( 12 h light : 12 h dark photoperiod). Thermal acclimation of burst and sustained swimming performance was also assessed, as these traits are likely to underlie their ability to avoid forced matings. There was no influence of thermal acclimation on the burst swimming performance of female G. holbrooki over the range 18-30 degrees C; however, sustained swimming performance was significantly lower in the warm-than the cool-acclimation group. For mating behaviour, we tested the hypothesis that acclimation would enhance the ability of female G. holbrooki to avoid forced matings at their host acclimation temperature relative to females acclimated to another environment. However, our hypothesis was not supported. The rate of copulations was almost three times greater for females acclimated to 30 degrees C than 18 degrees Cwhen tested at 30 degrees C, indicating that they possess the ability to alter their avoidance behaviour to 'allow' more copulations in some environments. Coupled with previous studies, female G. holbrooki appear to have greater control on the outcome of coercive mating attempts than previously considered and can alter their propensity to receive forced matings following thermal acclimation. The significance of this change in female mating-avoidance behaviours with thermal acclimation remains to be explored.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2131-2139
Number of pages9
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. B, Biological Sciences
Publication statusPublished - 29 Nov 2007


  • temperature
  • temperature acclimation
  • beneficial acclimation hypothesis
  • reproductive success
  • Gambusia holbrooki
  • SIZE


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