Mar 2, 2018

Computer animations of color markings reveal the function of visual threat signals in Neolamprologus pulcher

Current Zoology
Valentina BalzariniJoachim G Frommen


Visual signals, including changes in coloration and color patterns, are frequently used by animals to convey information. During contests, body coloration and its changes can be used to assess an opponent's state or motivation. Communication of aggressive propensity is particularly important in group-living animals with a stable dominance hierarchy, as the outcome of aggressive interactions determines the social rank of group members. Neolamprologus pulcher is a cooperatively breeding cichlid showing frequent within-group aggression. Both sexes exhibit two vertical black stripes on the operculum that vary naturally in shape and darkness. During frontal threat displays these patterns are actively exposed to the opponent, suggesting a signaling function. To investigate the role of operculum stripes during contests we manipulated their darkness in computer animated pictures of the fish. We recorded the responses in behavior and stripe darkness of test subjects to which these animated pictures were presented. Individuals with initially darker stripes were more aggressive against the animations and showed more operculum threat displays. Operculum stripes of test subjects became darker after exposure to an animation exhibiting a pale...Continue Reading

Mentioned in this Paper

Neolamprologus pulcher
Research Subject
Neozoarces pulcher
Micronemacheilus pulcher
Retinal Operculum
Nyctimystes pulcher

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