Metabolism, oxidative stress and territorial behaviour in a female colour polymorphic cichlid fish

Peter D. Dijkstra, Michele E.R. Pierotti, Ole Seehausen, Neil B. Metcalfe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Intrasexual selection on body coloration is thought to play an important role in the evolution of colour polymorphism, but its physiological underpinnings have received limited attention. In the colour polymorphic cichlid Neochromis omnicaeruleus, three fully sympatric female colour morphs—a plain morph (P) and two conspicuously coloured blotched morphs, black-and-white blotched (WB) and orange blotched (OB)—differ in agonistic behaviour. We compared routine metabolic rate (when females were housed in social isolation), short-term energetic costs of interacting with a same-colour rival housed in an adjacent transparent chamber and oxidative stress between the three female colour morphs. WB females had a lower routine metabolic rate compared with the other colour morphs. WB females also had a lower active metabolic rate during inter-female interactions than OB females, while OB females used more oxygen per unit aggressive act than the other two colour morphs. However, there were no consistent differences in oxidative stress between the three morphs. Concerted divergence in colour, behaviour and metabolism might contribute to the evolution of these polymorphisms in sympatry.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)99-109
Number of pages11
JournalBehavioral Ecology and Sociobiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016


  • Cichlid fish
  • Female-female competition
  • Lake Victoria
  • Metabolic costs
  • Oxidative stress
  • Sexual selection


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