Journal of Ethology

, Volume 37, Issue 3, pp 335–342 | Cite as

Effect of male aggressivity profile on female chemical choice in Nile tilapia

  • V. S. Rossi
  • M. Borges de Sá
  • V. S. Sugihara
  • I. M. de Mello
  • P. C. GiaquintoEmail author


Selection favors females that make use of reliable information on the genetic quality of males, which affects mating decisions. Although studies have shown that females prefer dominant males, it may not be adaptive for females to choose very aggressive males, as aggression can be misdirected towards females. The Nile tilapia Oreochromis niloticus is an appropriate model species for testing this dilemma because it shows dominance hierarchy, in which dominant males defend territories, build nests, court females and have priority of access to mating. In addition, in this species, odor recognition affects sexual and social status. We tested whether females can select, by means of chemical cues, dominant males with aggressive profiles. Females were allowed to choose between the odors of two dominant males differing in their aggression level. Our findings show that females discriminate dominant males that have a high aggressivity profile in favor of males that are less aggressive.


Aggression Dominance Mate choice Chemical cues Sexual selection Fish 



We thank Dr. Assaf Barki for improving the manuscript. This study was supported by a grant to Marina B. de Sá from the Fundacao de Amparo a Pesquisa Estado de Sao Paulo—FAPESP (2012/06565-7).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

All authors involved in this study declare no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All applicable international, national, and institutional guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed. This study is in agreement with the precepts of the Brazilian College for Animal Experimentation (protocol no. 484) ( This article does not contain any studies with human participants performed by any of the authors.


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Copyright information

© Japan Ethological Society 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Physiology Department, Institute of BiosciencesState University of Sao Paulo/UNESPBotucatuBrazil

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