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Biol Lett. 2007 Apr 22;3(2):134-6.

Early learning influences species assortative mating preferences in Lake Victoria cichlid fish.

Author information

1
Behavioural Biology, Leiden University, PO Box 9516, 2300 RA Leiden, The Netherlands. m.n.verzijden@biology.leidenuniv.nl

Abstract

The Lake Victoria 'species flock' of cichlids is puzzling because reproductive isolation often occurs in the absence of substantial ecological differences among species. Theory predicts that this cannot evolve with most genetic mechanisms for mate choice. We provide the first evidence that learning, in the form of sexual imprinting, helps maintain reproductive isolation among closely related cichlid species. Using a cross-fostering experiment, we show that young females develop a sexual preference for males of their foster mothers' species, even reversing species assortative mating preferences. We suggest that learning creates favourable conditions for reproductive isolation to evolve.

PMID:
17287180
PMCID:
PMC2375935
DOI:
10.1098/rsbl.2006.0601
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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