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1 April 2023 Male Guppies Recognize Familiar Conspecific Males by Their Face
Shumpei Sogawa, Rio Fukushima, Will Sowersby, Satoshi Awata, Kento Kawasaka, Masanori Kohda
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Individual recognition is a necessary cognitive ability for the maintenance of stable social relationships. Recent studies have shown that like primates, some fish species can distinguish familiar fish from unfamiliar strangers via face-recognition. However, the taxa of the studied fish species are restricted (within Perciformes) and the visual signal used for the recognition of fish remains unclear. Here, we investigated the visual signal for individual-recognition in males of a sexually dichromatic guppy (Poecilia reticulata, Cyprinodontiformes). Using guppy males, we examined the hypothesis that fish distinguish between familiar individuals and unknown strangers by their faces rather than by body coloration. We randomly presented focal fish with four types of composite photo-models: familiar (familiar-face and familiar-body = F/F), stranger (stranger-face and stranger-body = S/S), familiar face combined with stranger body (F/S) and stranger face combined with familiar body (S/F). Focal males infrequently attacked familiar-face models but frequently attacked stranger-face models, regardless of body types. These behavioral reactions indicate that guppy males discriminate between familiar and stranger males by their face, not body coloration with wide variation. Importantly, male faces contain clear individual-variation in white/metallic colored patches on the operculum visible for humans. Considering the photo-model, our results suggest that these patches might be an important visual stimulus for face-recognition in guppy males, like some cichlids. Comparative examination among males of different guppy variants, including wild type phenotype, suggests that the face color-patch is stable regardless of variation in body color, with a different genetic mechanism potentially underlying face and body colors.

Shumpei Sogawa, Rio Fukushima, Will Sowersby, Satoshi Awata, Kento Kawasaka, and Masanori Kohda "Male Guppies Recognize Familiar Conspecific Males by Their Face," Zoological Science 40(2), 168-174, (1 April 2023).
Received: 11 October 2022; Accepted: 20 February 2023; Published: 1 April 2023
Body coloration
face recognition
facial coloration
individual recognition
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