CIE Spotlight: Artificial selection for food colour preferences

Gemma C. & John E.

Gemma C. & John E.

TitleArtificial selection for food colour preferences

AuthorsCole, Gemma L.; Endler, John A.

Source: PROCEEDINGS OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY B-BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES, 282 (1804), APR 7 2015

Brief summary of the paper: Colour is an important factor in food detection and acquisition by animals using visually based foraging. Colour can be used to identify the suitability of a food source or improve the efficiency of food detection, and can even be linked to mate choice.

Food colour preferences are known to exist, but whether these preferences are heritable and how these preferences evolve is unknown.

Using the freshwater fish Poecilia reticulata, we artificially selected for chase behaviour towards two different-coloured moving stimuli: red and blue spots.

A response to selection was only seen for chase behaviours towards the red, with realized heritabilities ranging from 0.25 to 0.30. Despite intense selection, no significant chase response was recorded for the blue-selected lines.

This lack of response may be due to the motion-detection mechanism in the guppy visual system and may have novel implications for the evolvability of responses to colour-related signals. The behavioural response to several colours after five generations of selection suggests that the colour opponency system of the fish may regulate the response to selection.