WASHINGTON, July 1 (UPI) — Two similar kinds of Canadian fish that could interbreed don’t because females are looking for mates just like their own fathers, researchers say.
In several British Columbia lakes, two species of stickleback fish could easily interbreed with each other, but females are apparently only looking for mates who smell like dad, ScienceNews magazine reported Monday.
Slimmer sticklebacks who feed on plankton in open water mate with their own kind, while larger, bottom-feeding sticklebacks mate with theirs, says Genevieve Kozak of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Experiments show that early in life, females of both varieties pick up some cue from their fathers, probably an odor, that comes into play when choosing a mate, Kozak says.
Stickleback fathers do the child care, hovering over the developing embryos to defend them from predators and make sure fresh water circulates.
It’s during the period when the embryos are four to five days old that their olfactory system develops, Kozak says.
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