Discrete colour morphs have provided important insights into the evolution of phenotypic diversity. One of the mechanisms that can help to explain coexistence of ecologically similar colour morphs and incipient species is (colour) biased aggression, which has the potential to promote continued existence of the morphs in a frequency-dependent manner. I addressed colour biases in territorial aggression in a field-based study on a Neotropical cichlid fish species, Amphilophus sagittae, which has two ecologically indistinguishable colour morphs that mate assortatively. I found that A. sagittae, in particular females, were more aggressive towards models of their own colour than those mimicking colours of the other morph. Such a behavioural pattern should result in a selection regime that benefits the rarer morph, and hence could help explain how novel, rare phenotypes may avoid competitive exclusion.
- Aggressive behaviour
- Colour polymorphism
- Frequency-dependent selection
- Sexual selection
- Species complex