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Consistency in the strength of laterality in male, but not female, guppies across different behavioural contexts

McLean, Stephanie; Morrell, Lesley J.


Stephanie McLean


© 2020 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved. Laterality, the division of brain functions into separate hemispheres, is widespread across animal taxa. Lateralized individuals exhibit cognitive advantages yet substantial variation in laterality exists, particularly between the sexes. Why variation is maintained is unknown as few studies consider differences in lateralized behaviours between the sexes, and their underlying selection pressures, across different contexts. We investigated if Poecilia reticulata exhibited sex differences in the direction, strength and consistency of lateralization. We assessed the turning preferences of individuals detouring around a barrier to view visual stimuli representative of different behavioural contexts: an artificial object of familiar colour, an opposite sex conspecific and a no stimulus control. While no sex differences were evident in the direction or strength of laterality, consistency in the strength of laterality varied between the sexes. Individuals of both sexes consistently detoured in one direction, but the strength of laterality exhibited by males was more predictable than females across contexts. This suggests that predictability of lateralization across ecologically relevant scenarios represents a key, but previously unexplored, source of variation between the sexes.


McLean, S., & Morrell, L. J. (2020). Consistency in the strength of laterality in male, but not female, guppies across different behavioural contexts. Biology Letters, 16(5), Article 20190870.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Apr 16, 2020
Online Publication Date May 13, 2020
Publication Date 2020-05
Deposit Date Apr 20, 2020
Publicly Available Date May 11, 2020
Journal Biology Letters
Print ISSN 1744-9561
Electronic ISSN 1744-957X
Publisher The Royal Society
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 16
Issue 5
Article Number 20190870
Keywords Consistency of laterality; Behavioural laterality; Sex-differences; Poecilla reticulata; Cerebral lateralisation
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Article (565 Kb)

Copyright Statement
©2020 The authors. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder

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