In a new study of cichlid fish descended from others caught in East Africa’s Lake Tanganika, scientists have made some surprising observations about how those animals respond to changes in their environments known as "social opportunities."
Dr. Sabrina S. Burmeister, assistant professor of biology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s College of Arts and Sciences, and colleagues found that subordinate male fish underwent a radical and rapid transformation when more dominant males were removed.
"When we took dominant cichlid males from an experimental tank, subordinate males started becoming dominant themselves in as few as two minutes," Burmeister said. "Their colors -- blue and yellow -- got much brighter, a black stripe we call an eye bar appeared near their eyes, and they became much more aggressive than they were before. The remaining males also quickly paid a lot more attention to females because for the first time, they had an opportunity to reproduce."
David Williamson | EurekAlert!
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