Do Females in a Unisexual-Bisexual Species Complex Differ in Their Behavioral Syndromes and Cortisol Production?




Muraco, James J.
Monroe, Dillon J.
Aspbury, Andrea S.
Gabor, Caitlin R.

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Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute


Studies of suites of correlated behavioral traits (i.e., behavioral syndromes) aid in understanding the adaptive importance of behavioral evolution. Behavioral syndromes may be evolutionarily constrained, preventing behaviors from evolving independently, or they may be an adaptive result of selection on the correlation itself. We tested these hypotheses by characterizing the behavioral syndromes in two sympatric, closely related species and testing for differences between the species. We studied the unisexual Amazon molly (Poecilia formosa) and one of its bisexual, parent species, the sailfin molly (P. latipinna). Sympatric female sailfin and Amazon mollies compete for mating which could affect the behavioral syndromes found in each species. We identified a behavioral syndrome between exploration and activity in both species that did not differ between species. Additionally, we explored the relationship between a stress response hormone, cortisol, and behavioral type, and did not detect a relationship. However, P. formosa differed from P. latipinna in their cortisol release rates. Behavioral syndromes may be constrained in this complex, aiding in mate acquisition for P. formosa by virtue of having a similar behavioral type to P. latipinna. The difference between the females in cortisol release rates may be a useful mate identification cue for males to offset higher mating mistakes associated with the similar behavioral types.



glucocorticoids, mate choice, personality-traits, Poecilia latipinna, Poecilia formosa


Muraco, J. J., Monroe, D. J., Aspbury, A. S., & Gabor, C. R. (2021). Do females in a unisexual-bisexual species complex differ in their behavioral syndromes and cortisol production? Biology, 10(03), 186.


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