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Cichlids: A Knowledge Base .: Chat Logs .: 10/10/31 Labeotropheus with Mike Pauers

10/10/31 Labeotropheus with Mike Pauers

Mjpauers:           I have never done one of these before, so please be patient with me!

why_spyder:     Mike, not a problem :)

StructureGuy:   No way. We will be picking on you from the get go.

mjpauers:           Also, I don't want to just barge in and start pontificating - I can start whenever you guys are ready.

mjpauers:           Shall I begin?

StructureGuy:   Sure. Tell us a little about yourself.

mjpauers:           Again, I am not well-versed in the protocol for these things, so let me know when you want me to start, or whatever.

mjpauers:           OK

ZK1975:                I'm here, so anytime you want now, Mike ;)

AmayaOkami:   nice Z

StructureGuy:   The organization is up to you. It's loosely organized and very informal

mjpauers:           Well, I am Mike Pauers, and I hold a Ph.D. in the behavior and evolution of fishes, especially Malawian mbuna, and especially the Labeotropheus.

mjpauers:           Brian asked me a few weeks ago to talk about my research.

mjpauers:           But, there was actually a very cool new finding in mbuna taxonomy this week that I'd like to share with you first.

mjpauers:           It has nothing to do with Labeotropheus, unfortunately.

mjpauers:           Michael K. Oliver, who runs, and who is an excellent taxonomist, has been working with Melanochromis labrosus for years.

mjpauers:           He and Matthew Arnegard, another cichlid guy, have placed labrosus in a new genus!

StructureGuy:   The not-so-beautiful mbuna with the big lips

mjpauers:           So, we now should refer to that fish as Abactochromis labrosus.

mjpauers:           Yes, the big-lipped one. As a matter of fact, that is the primary character they used to place it in its own genus!

ZK1975:                Abacto, meaning?

mjpauers:           Good question!

mjpauers:           Abacto is Latin for "driven away" or "banished", referring to the fact that it is no longer a Melano.

why_spyder:     lol

ZK1975:                Interesting

mjpauers:           I love etymology! I studied 4.5 years of Latin in HS and undergrad!

mjpauers:           Its part of what makes me interested in taxonomy: you get to make up new words!

ZK1975:                I figured it would have meant big lipped, but didn't hurt to ask

StructureGuy:   So is labrosus a paedophage?

mjpauers:           Oliver posted the paper on, in the Bibliography section, so you can all get a copy - for free!

mjpauers:           Another good question!

mjpauers:           AFAIK, labrosus uses its lips to suck inverts out of rocks, just like many big-lipped fish.

ZK1975:                i.e. VC-10?

why_spyder:     For those that don't know, paedophage means One that eats or consumes the young of other species.

mjpauers:           Big lips seem to be an example of convergent evolution - all fish with them use them in a similar fashion.

why_spyder:     Z, yes - Placidochromis milomo

mjpauers:           VC-10, I believe, is a paedophage. I know it is pretty darn predatory.

mikeynashy:      lol

PhishNFilly:       can somebody flip up a pic of this fish by chance?

mjpauers:           I don't type so fast, either!

mjpauers:           I have the .pdf in front of me, so I could cut and paste...if I knew where to paste it...

PhishNFilly:       paste into where you see yourself typing

AmayaOkami:   :)


PhishNFilly:       under the word here.

mikeynashy:      google

ZK1975:       P. Milomo

why_spyder:     shame on you Z - that is forbidden!

mikeynashy:      zk that says forbidden

why_spyder:     lol

ZK1975:                well HMM

mjpauers:           Hold on - getting image...

AmayaOkami:   lol

PhishNFilly:       ty mike

mikeynashy:      np

ZK1975:                Am I wrong for remembering perhaps tank raised milomo do not get the big lips? Sorry if Iím detouring off subject a bit.

mjpauers:           Ummm...not working so well. You'll have to trust me that itís there!

why_spyder:     Z - that is what I have heard as well.

StructureGuy:   So along the same lines. People say that Labeotropheus looses it's odd "nose" in the aquarium after a few generations. Is that true and how long does it actually take. They say the same about the big-lipped fish

mjpauers:           I have never heard that tank-raised milomo lack the lips. Though it would be possible, I guess. But red devils maintain their lips in captivity...

mjpauers:           About Labeotropheus in captivity:

mjpauers:           They do maintain their characteristic morphology, including the snout.

mjpauers:           Many years ago, it was noticed that in big community displays, like at zoos and aquaria, Labeotropheus would "lose" their snouts.

why_spyder:     Would you say that the nose size is affected by whether or not they graze much while in captivity?

ZK1975:                I do love the gonzo'd nose fish :)

Glaive: the paper and an image (link for transcript should be given proper credit)

mjpauers:           What was going on was that the Labeos were hybridizing with other mbuna.

mjpauers:           Thanks for link, Glaive!

PhishNFilly:       wow

mjpauers:           I have done quite a bit of work on morphology with captive and wild generations of Labeos, and have found little effect of captive life on snout morphology.

mjpauers:           Labeos seem to graze wherever and whenever they can, including off the sides of their tank.

StructureGuy:   Is a characteristic like the "nose" more fixed in the mbuna than it is for fish like Victorians where they have not had as much time to evolve?

mjpauers:           So, I think they get enough use of it in captivity.

Glaive: would you conclude that they are thus an older species with more hardset morphology, as opposed to some Victorians which change jaw structure very quickly?

mjpauers:           Good questions!

mjpauers:           I differ from other researchers in that I _think_ that the Labeos are probably a pretty young genus.

mjpauers:           I think that their trophic morphology became fixed pretty quickly in evolution, but they are continuing to diverge to this day.

mjpauers:           Some work by R. Craig Albertson (a neat guy!) demonstrated that mbuna trophic morphology evolved pretty early on in the Lake Malawi radiation...

bmiller816:         ok so Iím going to ask a question thatís differs from person to person, but how often should I feed my fish?

mjpauers:           ...but that the fish are still diverging wrt sexually-selected traits. And that is one of my primary areas of interest.

StructureGuy:   There are still only the two species of Labeotropheus, right? Or are you seeing some other potential splits?

mjpauers:           Feed your fish every day. Or, if you're like me, once every 4 days...

mjpauers:           I am interested in examining that very question, StructureGuy.

ZK1975:                I kept Trewavasae, myself. Love them!

mjpauers:           I have examined a couple of populations of L. fuelleborni, and I am certain that they are different species.

mjpauers:           And I think that it is very likely that every population with a divergent male coloration represents a different species.

mjpauers:           Ad Konings does not agree with me, though.

AmayaOkami:   how so?

Glaive: do you see any physical structure differences?

Glaive: between males of different populations?

mjpauers:           This might take a while to get through. Be patient with me as I try to organize my thoughts...and type them!

StructureGuy:   I thought that color isn't much of a reason to split into another genus although the Labeo's sure come in many colors.

why_spyder:     :)

ZK1975:                They sure do, SG.

mjpauers:           So, it has been known for a while that many cichlids use male nuptial (breeding) colors to select mates.

mjpauers:           In other words, females not only select mates based on coloration, but, what is really happening is that they are using colors to identify which species is which.

mjpauers:           So, from the perspective of a female, she may have what ecologists call a "search image."

mjpauers:           Basically, she has an ingrained set of rules she uses that might go like this:

StructureGuy:   Yea, I heard that one reason given for hybridization in Lake Victoria. The murky water is confusing mate selection.

mjpauers:           "Well, he's in the right habitat, he's eating the right stuff, and he's wearing the right colors - he's mine!"

mikeynashy:      lol

PhishNFilly:       lol

SabrinaD:            I believe I've seen that in my own tank recently

mjpauers:           So, I think that coloration really is a badge of species--status in these fishes. And that's not unusual among scientists to think that.

ZK1975:                Correct color, but wrong pattern would make a difference, though right? Or am I reading too deeply in that little female thought?

mjpauers:           But, the Labeotropheus have been a problem in this regard.

mjpauers:           ZK1975 - Exactomundo!

mjpauers:           How many of you have heard the name A.J. Ribbink?

SabrinaD:            so color would be more important than pattern to female?

StructureGuy:   Is Exactomundo one of those fancy Latin terms?

Glaive: the name rings a bell, but where exactly I cannot place

why_spyder:     Mike, not I

mjpauers:           StructureGuy -:d

mjpauers:           Hey! I figured out how to do one of those damn smiley things!

mikeynashy:      lol

PhishNFilly:       A + mj

StructureGuy:   Now you're one of us

mjpauers:           Ribbink is famous for performing the first comprehensive survey of mbuna ecology.

mjpauers:           One of of of us...

michael r:            Iím still working on the smiley thing my self

mjpauers:           Anywho...

mjpauers:           Ribbink and his coworkers were kind of overwhelmed by all the Labeotropheus they found.

mjpauers:           So, they made a snap judgment that has been misinterpreted over and over again by many cichlid workers.

mjpauers:           They basically said that if it is deep-bodied and lives in the shallows, it is L. fuelleborni, and if it is slender and deep-dwelling, it is L. trewavasae.

mjpauers:           BUT...

mjpauers:           They also said that they were making this distinction out of convenience, and that the Labeotropheus really need more work and attention than they could afford to give at the time.

StructureGuy:   Wow. That's pretty much how we hobbyists tell the difference.

why_spyder:     Exactly.

mjpauers:           So, many workers have forgot about that last proviso, and have just assumed that shallow = fuelleborni, deep = trewavasae, and that's it.

mjpauers:           And it is a handy little rule of thumb. But, like all rules of thumb, it is basically false, or at least constraining.

Glaive: so people were working on half of the proper information

mjpauers:           Itís kind of a logical fallacy. It is defining something based on what it isn't, which is really poor taxonomic practice.

mjpauers:           Glaive - yes!

mjpauers:           Itís like saying, "Well, there are two colors, red and blue. Since you are wearing a shirt that is not blue, it must, therefore, be red."

StructureGuy:   Any insight on why some female trewavasae are blotched and others aren't? It always seemed like that would be consistent.

AmayaOkami:   ok now I understand this

mjpauers:           Or, itís like the Sith - there can be only two...

mikeynashy:      ty Pauers for the example lol

sepratbill:           my females are blotchy

mjpauers:           The female polychromatism is an interesting puzzle.

Glaive: in this specific instance we the hobbyist are looking at a body shape and disregarding the depth the fish was found at (which we likely do not know)

ZK1975:                Oh, Glaive.. that's a form of that one thing u taught me the other day about the bad Italian singer thing, right?:)

mjpauers:           It kind of sets the stage for male mate choice, which hasn't been demonstrated all that often in the mbuna.

mjpauers:           Glaive - right again.

ZK1975:                Welcome Pam!

ZK1975:                *bows to the Cichlid Queen*

mjpauers:           There are many pop's of Labeotropheus with a female polychromatism.

mjpauers:           Usually, there is a gray or brown form, and a blotched or OB form.

mjpauers:           Ole Seehausen has worked out some of the genetics behind this, and has shown how this leads to marmalade cat males in populations, too.

mjpauers:           Sorry - trying to remember where this was heading...

ZK1975:                Female color variations ;)

mjpauers:           Oh - I got it!

why_spyder:     How prevalent is it to find females in one population to show both the 'standard' dull coloration alongside the OB morph?

mjpauers:           It is probably more common than we think.

mjpauers:           In the two pops I work with, there is a female color polychromatism in each.

mjpauers:           Anyway, this whole color thing...

mjpauers:  is basically a stepping-stone to speciation.

StructureGuy:   I think we could talk to Mike all night long. One question leads to another.

mikeynashy:      thatís a good thing

mjpauers:           I'm very happy you are enjoying this!

mjpauers:           I love the questions!

ZK1975:                I've got all night.. Iím learning new things

mjpauers:           I hope I am answering them all!

why_spyder:     Mike - you are really doing well:)

PhishNFilly:       0

Glaive: in the case of polychromatism that would be many colored ( note for transcript and any who did not know)

AmayaOkami:   yes Mike I am actually understanding some when you use examples

mjpauers:           So, if a female cannot recognize a male as a potential mate, he's not going to mate.

mjpauers:           Or, conversely, if a male is the "wrong" color, the females won't recognize him as a mate.

mjpauers:           Thanks for the compliments and encouragements!

mjpauers:           I'll try to be more specific, and give examples when I can.

StructureGuy:   So how big a role is mitochondrial (whew, spelling) DNA playing in all this? Is it the end all and be all to classification? Doesn't sound like it.

ZK1975:                So are there several variations in colorations of same genus/species that doesn't necessarily denote collection point differences?

mjpauers:           This is what interests me the most: How do fish see color, and how do they use it in their day-to-day lives, especially with a characteristic known to be so important to the evolution of new species.

mjpauers:           mtDNA, and molecular genetic in general, is very tricky with African cichlids.

AmayaOkami:   is it known yet the spectrum of what fish can see?

mjpauers:           Basically, they've evolved so quickly that it is only in the past 10 years that we have developed consistently reliable tools to help us differentiate different species and populations.

mjpauers:           ZK - I am reading your question...

mjpauers:           ZK - yes. There are a few species in which the color may be the same among pops. Is that what you were asking?

mjpauers:           Amaya - yes!

mjpauers:           There are two different types of mbuna color vision.

mjpauers:           On is generally called "violet sensitive."

mjpauers:           Fish like this - like Melanochromis - see a somewhat more abbreviated spectrum than we can.

mjpauers:           They see violet up to orange or so. No red.

mjpauers:           Then, there is what is generally called "ultraviolet sensitive."

mjpauers:           These fish - like Labeotropheus, Metriaclima - have ultraviolet sensitivity, which is pretty cool!

AmayaOkami:   that is

mjpauers:           They see a spectrum from UVb (~370nm) up to, say, yellows.

SabrinaD:            would vision range help differentiate genus?

mjpauers:           That's the very question I want to work out, Sabrina! Or, at least, one of them.

SabrinaD:            how can you test vision range?

mjpauers:           It appears that, largely, color sensitivity is somewhat related to genus.

mjpauers:           There are a number of ways to examine color vision.

mjpauers:           One way - which takes a lot of time - is to "ask" the fish themselves.

mikeynashy:      lol

sepratbill:           ooo! do you speak mbuna?


deptchief:           lol

Glaive: light spectrum image

mjpauers:           And what I mean by that is give them color-related tasks for which they get a reward if they do it right.

PhishNFilly:       gwon lffn

StructureGuy:   Isn't there a consistent way to differentiate species, or are there a lot of opinions about what criteria to use. I always thought it was mostly teeth, fin counts and body shape.

mjpauers:           Thanks, Glaive!

mjpauers:           StructureGuy - I'll get to your question in a sec - itís a very good one!

mjpauers:           But, you can also perform an electroretinogram on the fish, which is something you may have had done at the optometrist's/ophthalmologist's office.

ZK1975:                Well I was basing the question upon all the Labeos' color morph issues and just was wandering about the idea that there are two say.. L. Trewavasae that are from the same collection point but are of different colorations. I guess at that point they'd be considered a separate species? Sorry for the huge delay I wanted to ask it in the least stupid sounding way possible.:)

mjpauers:           The ERG detects brain activity in response to different wavelengths of light.

mjpauers:           But you can also kind of find out from gene expression experiments what kind of opsins (light sensitive molecules in the eye) the fish have. Or any organism, for that matter.

ZK1975:                Ok here's a dumb question then with all the violet/ultraviolet sensitive fish.. is this the reason why there isn't much fish color to choose that fall in the unseen range?

mjpauers:           ZK - good clarification - thanks! But Structure Guy gets his answer first!

ZK1975:                yessir ;)

StructureGuy:   Wow. I can't imagine these relatively little fish having a retina scan and brain scan.

mjpauers:           Structure Guy: There is old taxonomic practice, which depends on fin ray counts, scale counts, etc.

mjpauers:           But, nowadays, as a friend of mine has told me, we need to get a bit more creative with our taxonomic practice.

SabrinaD:            but we now know that there is more to fish than fins and scales LOL

mjpauers:           Plus, we are now encouraged to use characters that are important to the fish, and not just us. So that is why color has become more important in descriptions and taxonomy.

mjpauers:           Sabrina - Exactomundo!

Glaive: science is supposed to adapt based on what we learn so it makes sense that scientific process should adapt as well

mjpauers:           ZK - IF we found two color "morphs" of a Labeotropheus at the same location, and they weren't interbreeding, that would put to bed this narrow-minded thinking about the Labeotropheus once and for all!

SabrinaD:            Do different color morphs have different general personalities?

SabrinaD:            I know it happens in C. afra

mjpauers:           ZK - this is why many folks refuse to think that Labeotropheus populations could be different species.

mjpauers:           Sabrina - brief answer, yes. More later...

mjpauers:           ZK - re: fish coloration: I am working on a manuscript that addresses this very question as we speak, albeit in an indirect way.

ZK1975:                k cuz I know we as hobbyists pick fish to keep by specific locations cuz one looks better than the other.. but what IF there were two types of one species from one location.. oooooo that'd change it up a little on fish selection for us who aren't down to the specifics I guess

mjpauers:           To some extents, you are right; if the fish can't see it, why be that color (i.e., red)?

ZK1975:                Makes sense

Glaive: have you identified different environmental factors that affect color between different locations which could have lead to the differences in the eyes of each proposed species?

mjpauers:           But, think of it in terms of a color blind human: they can still see red (or green), but they don't register it as "red" ... and now we're getting metaphysical...

mjpauers:           Glaive - I think that very thing is happening. I want to get over to Malawi to collect that data!

Pam Chin:           Letís go!

SabrinaD:            so some locations may show a preponderance of yellow and another blue or white (or some other color)

mjpauers:           Sabrina: Some populations, as marked by different male colors, do behave differently from each other.

why_spyder:     Environmental factors would be like depth, water clarity, season of the year?

Glaive: lead the way Pam ;)

mjpauers:           Pam: If you're buying...:d

PhishNFilly:       take along us 10 just because!

Glaive: I would imagine sediment being lifted by currents, possibly even micro organisms?

SabrinaD:            so that brings the question if personality is one of the distinguishing factors

ZK1975:                difference in eyes, but would diet at some point affect coloration? more of one nutrient that brings out yellows in an area than another?

mjpauers:           There is one population - Chidunga - where the males have very active courtship.

SabrinaD:            between species

mjpauers:           You have all hit on some likely culprits for environmental variation that could lead to differences in vision and, thus, coloration.

mjpauers:           There was a really neat paper published in...June or July...that looked at this, but only in one location. They found that habitat - measured as depth, basically - had no effect on coloration. Which is interesting in and of itself, and somewhat counterintuitive.

why_spyder:     Indeed.

mjpauers:           Glaive - I am not actively courting you...or am I?;)

SabrinaD:            you would think depth would be a big factor as that changes what light gets down to them

Glaive: rofl mike

mjpauers:           Sabrina - yes, you would think that - I know I did!

mjpauers:           There is an explanation for it, though.

mjpauers:           It is called color constancy. We have it, too.

mjpauers:           It is why colors generally look the same in bright or dim light.

Glaive: so when you look to study this in the lab have you given thought to running two tanks side beside and introducing sediment or some other light limiting factor to study courtship behavioral changes?

mjpauers:           Glaive - I have done this with male-male aggression.

SabrinaD:            do you see any changes?

mjpauers:           A recent study did this with courtship in Metriaclima species, and found that, for them, the color didn't matter. Also very interesting, and not what I would have expected.

mjpauers:           Sabrina - No, if you can believe it! Trying to get our data published, so I can't say much more about it, but.

mjpauers:           Sorry

SabrinaD:            that's okay , it's just cool to know you are out there doing this kind of research

mjpauers:           It appears that something else is going on, probably pattern recognition as opposed to hue (or color) recognition.

SabrinaD:            do male focus more on pattern and females more on color?

mjpauers:           Ummm...where was I?

ZK1975:                I take it this has nothing to do with tank lights on or off debate that the light means nothing to the fish but only for our viewing?

mjpauers:           Sabrina - That's what I think, though I need to do much more work on that question.

Glaive: no worries Mike, I do not want a chat to jeopardize any of your work, you have spent far too much time on it to chance that, if anything we would merely ask you back for a follow up chat ;)

SabrinaD:            yes, please come back after you've published

mjpauers:           ZK - yep. The light is mostly for us, though they do need it to synchronize their circadian clocks.

ZK1975:                Thought so:)

mjpauers:           I hope the damn thing gets published! Publishing can be very frustrating, sometimes...

StructureGuy:   Well. I gotta go. Thanks to Why_Spyder for setting this up and thanks to Mike for putting up with us. It's been my favorite discussion we've ever had. And I don't particularly even like these funny nose mbuna. Good night all.

Glaive: lol night Kevin

mjpauers:           Nice to meet you, StructureGuy!

mjpauers:           Oh!

mjpauers:           Color constancy!

Glaive: he has an early morning, the sissy, I'm leaving this in the transcript

mikeynashy:      lol

mjpauers:           So, with the mbuna, they use this mechanism to help them recognize colors, even when they aren't all that obvious.

mjpauers:           Take the color red, for example.

mjpauers:           Red light disappears with depth. After ~20 ft or so, red wavelengths don't penetrate, not even in very clear Lake Malawi.

mjpauers:           But, the mbuna can still detect these wavelengths on other fish, because of color constancy, which is a type of neural or cortical (not the fish have much of a cortex...) filtering mechanism.

mjpauers:           Again, itís the reason why red looks red or green looks green no matter what sort of lighting you have, at least as far as bright or dim lighting is concerned.

mjpauers:           So no more "Oh, I got dressed with the lights off..." excuses when you show up at work looking like a dork...

why_spyder:     lol

PhishNFilly:       :p

mikeynashy:      8)

mjpauers:           Have I gotten to all the questions? I feel like I have neglected someone.

mikeynashy:      [SabrinaD] 9:55 pm: how can you test vision range? did u get that one

mjpauers:           Or, I can keep rambling. I'm sure I can get you all nice and sleepy...

SabrinaD:            except this is fascinating stuff LOL

mjpauers:           Color vision tests for fish: you can give them tasks (called operant conditioning), you can make electrophysiological measurements (like the ERG), or you can examine their genes, basically.

mjpauers:           That's the quick, jargon-filled answer...

mikeynashy:      Pauers yer not boring at all talk all u want ;)

SabrinaD:            do we have any of their genomes mapped out?

mjpauers:           The tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) genome has been mapped.

why_spyder:     Mike, hopefully you can cover some of your experiments on behavior once you have questions answered:)

SabrinaD:            I've always wondered if we'd ever be able to devise DNA testing for species

mjpauers:           There is a cichlid genome consortium project, headed by Dr. Tom Kocher, who has been working on this and has started a few mbuna.

mjpauers:           Oh, the behavior stuff, sure!

mjpauers:           I have done a few different experiments.

Glaive: I was curious how one would do the erg tests, literally sit a fish in a small volume of water with two electrodes and hit them with light changes, cross referencing brain activity with changes in spectrum?

mjpauers:           I have done some basic mate-choice experiments, just looking at how females react to different males.

mjpauers:           The interesting parts of those were that it appears that the male Labeotropheus were just as sensitive about the type of female present, and displayed more often to females of their own population.

mjpauers:           Not many would have expected that; I sure didn't!

SabrinaD:            that is really cool

SabrinaD:            that would lead to the idea of distinct species wouldn't it?

mjpauers:           Glaive - it basically works exactly as you describe!

mjpauers:           Except we anaesthetize the fish before we strap 'em in.

mjpauers:           Err... strap.

Glaive: so do you have a hypothesis you can share on the male recognition of female populations?

ZK1975:                Female coloration make any difference to perhaps one particular male. Like, the blotched females are preferred over spotted?:)

mjpauers:           Sabrina - yes!

mjpauers:           Glaive and ZK: It had been assumed for many years that male mbuna - and males in general just don't care about whom they mate with.

mjpauers:           Am I right, ladies?:d

PhishNFilly:       lol

mikeynashy:      lol

ZK1975:                yeah but it's the ladies who say yes or no, right?

Pam Chin:           I think you are right on!

mjpauers:           ZK - yes and no!

Pam Chin:           lol

Glaive: lol

ZK1975:                After a few beers perhaps..

mjpauers:           See, females make the big, expensive eggs, so they have a big investment in reproduction. So they kinda have to be choosy, just to protect the investment.

SabrinaD:            can a female pursue a male so much he agrees to breed? I had a peacock female that bred with an acei male but only after they'd been together for quite a long time (and he'd already been breeding his own females)

mjpauers:           But males also suffer, from an evolutionary standpoint, if they make the wrong choice.

mikeynashy:      humans have the same idea

mjpauers:           Sabrina - it was probably the male that noticed the big, ripe female, and she didn't want to waste the eggs. So, she "made the best of a bad situation," as ecologists might say of that type of hybridization.

SabrinaD:            and he was already in breeding mode at the time

mjpauers:           So, many assumed that males would just mate with whomever whenever. But my data showed that, while males courted all females, they courted more often to their "own" females.

mjpauers:           Which was kind of a novel finding, for mbuna. I think someone in George Turner's group had showed this in Metriaclima, too....

mjpauers:           But I also did another kind of mate choice experiment, which is why I am "famous" in cichlid research circles.

why_spyder:     Was there any difference in courtship behavior between males with standard females and males with OB females?

mjpauers:           I measured the wavelengths of light reflected off of the males, and did some calculations about their color patterns.

mjpauers:           Brian - I never looked at that, unfortunately. That would be the next place to go with this project.

Glaive: what did you find Mike?

mjpauers:           What I found was that females preferred males with the most saturated colors.

SabrinaD:            that makes a lot of sense actually

mjpauers:           And, because the colors were more saturated (this is a property called chroma), there was more contrast among the color pattern elements. So, the females like males with wildly-contrasting color patterns.

why_spyder:     Is it that high-contrasting colors are a sign of better health and vigor?

mjpauers:           What this demonstrated was that not only do females recognize their males based on color patterns, but that they make a judgment about mate quality based on color information, even when the males might have the same overall pattern and colors.

mjpauers:           Brian - yep. That has been shown in stickleback, and maybe in some cichlids too. Victorians, I think...

mjpauers:           I have also done some experiments with male-male aggression.

Glaive: very interesting, it correlates with the idea of an alpha male in the tank, typically the most colored up abusive brute who thus gets to mate...

mjpauers:           What we found was that males recognize opponents based on color pattern, and are more aggressive to similarly-colored opponents, not matter what the species.

mjpauers:           Glaive - yep!

Pam Chin:           ?

mjpauers:           So, a red top male was always more aggressive to a red top male, even if it was a different species.

mjpauers:           Given a choice between a red top male and a differently-colored male, that is.

Glaive: Just toss out the Question Pam, Mike here might be a rookie to chat but he catches on quick

mjpauers:           Yeah, I'm not so good with internet shorthand...

Pam Chin:           Did you do any study on flee distances?

mjpauers:           Pam - no.

mjpauers:           I'm not sure that anyone has with mbuna.

why_spyder:     I wonder what it would take to setup such a study (another chat possibly?:D)

mjpauers:           I think this has been looked at in Central American cichlids, but I can't think of an instance of this in Lake Malawi.

Pam Chin:           I just think it is an interesting aspect. In Central America flee lengths are really long, while in Malawi there are some that are very short, a couple feet, especially in the species that spawn in bowers.

Glaive: Might be a good question to pose to Larry

mjpauers:           Actually, it wouldn't be that difficult.

Glaive: value of prized territory increases exponentially with the distance from said territory

mjpauers:           You could use smaller tanks to position your stimulus fish a varying distances from the territory of your focal fish, and look at responses to each.

Pam Chin:           I always look at that when I observe fish in the wild and sometimes follow the chaser and sometimes follow the chasee

mjpauers:  idea is slowly forming. I don't think that experiment would quite do it. But something similar.

mjpauers:           Pam - what do you see when you do that?

Glaive: what about having a long skinny tank or just a Wal-Mart swimming pool?

mjpauers:           Pam - I missed your above post.

mjpauers:           Never mind!

mjpauers:           Yeah, different tank lengths/shapes could be a way to get at this.

Pam Chin:           Itís just interesting, I am also interested in Tropheus and flee distances are in important in that species

mjpauers:           It is very interesting, indeed!

mjpauers:           As you point out, with mbuna, the flee distances, or distances among competitors, are pretty small.

mjpauers:           So that makes for an easy study in captivity!

mjpauers:           Any other questions I forgot?

why_spyder:     Mike - with your behavior studies, did you have to do videos/photos of your experiments?

mjpauers:           Yes, videos.

mjpauers:           It is tough to directly observe cichlids in captivity. If they see you, they beg for food!

mjpauers:           So I film them and leave the room, and watch the tapes later.

mikeynashy:      any u can share?

SabrinaD:            I do have mine where they are used to me sitting near the tank (it's in the living room by the couch LOL) and I can watch them as long as I don't move toward the tank LOL

why_spyder:     how long did the videos have to run to get the information you needed?

mjpauers:           For mate choice, 30 - 45 minutes. For aggression, 10 minutes. Females can be kinda coy...

SabrinaD:            you can say that again LOL

Glaive: they are not coy, they are from Venus ;)

mjpauers:           mikeynashy - I'd love to, but I have to transfer them from 8mm VHS to digital. I am about 15 years behind the times, it seems...

mikeynashy:      lol

AmayaOkami:   lol they r just smart

mjpauers:           In the mate choice setup I use, the males are revealed suddenly to the females. So, they need a longer adjustment period to the stimulus.

why_spyder:     Mike - are you able to share the videos before your work is published, or would sharing ahead of publishing null your work?

Pam Chin:           You could request a camera in grant from the ACA! I think the stuff you are working on is great!

mjpauers:           I could share an example or two, once I do an analog to digital transfer.

mjpauers:           Thanks, Pam! I may very well do that! Except Wayne is a personal friend, and I'd hate to put him in that kind of spot...

Pam Chin:           I don't know, sounds like a worthy cause to me!

ZK1975:                Alright it's time for me to bow out. Thanks for the interesting and professional chat, Mike.

Pam Chin:           worthy

mjpauers:           Thank you, ZK!

mjpauers:           It is slowly creeping up on my bedtime, too. Any last, quick questions?

SabrinaD:            Mike thank so much for joining us, I had a great time and learned a lot. Take care and good luck with your research. Goodnight everyone

mjpauers:           If not, thank you all for inviting me, and for your attention!

Pam Chin:           clap clap clap clap Thanks Mike!

Glaive: no last questions comes to mind at the moment

PhishNFilly:       It's been absolutely amazing, thanks very much Mike for your time and willingness to share with us. Great information. Big Thumbs Up!

why_spyder:     Thanks for sharing Mike - loved it!

PhishNFilly:       :up:

mjpauers:           Feel free to e-mail me with any other questions:

AmayaOkami:   great job

Glaive: I think it is more important to thank you for such a stimulating chat.

mikeynashy:      ty mike for joining us yer awesome

mjpauers:           Thank you guys! I really appreciate it!

Glaive: Your work and knowledge was quite eye opening (pun not intended)

why_spyder:     When you get more information and when you get published (I think you will!) we will have to have you back again!

mjpauers:           I would love to come back.

mjpauers:  the hell do I sign out?

PhishNFilly:       lol just x out the room

mikeynashy:      lol just close out

AmayaOkami:   close the window

mjpauers:           OK - thanks!

why_spyder:     :)

mikeynashy:      nite

AmayaOkami:   byby

PhishNFilly:       ;)

AmayaOkami:   awww

Glaive: wow too slow alex

mikeynashy:      lol

PhishNFilly:       Wow......

mikeynashy:      I tryed

PhishNFilly:       I am just dumb struck.

mikeynashy:      I was like .3 secs off

PhishNFilly:       what a wonderful chat.

Let me just take this moment to say this chat was a pleasure. Mike led a really great chat and I hope that people see this and maybe engage Mike in doing more presentations. This was extremely informative and Mike was patient. Thank you Mike from everyone at CF. If you would like to contact Mike his email address is

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