Monday, September 11, 2006
Fickle coral reef fish can change sex according to the company they keep, a new study by US and Australian scientists showed on Monday.
Young bluehead wrasse choose their sex according to the crowd they grow up with in what appears to be the ultimate example of peer pressure, according to the study.
"It turns out that social effects are really important to whether a bluehead wrasse becomes a male or a female when it is young," said Doctor Philip Munday, of the Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and the School of Marine and Tropical Biology at James Cook University in Australia's Queensland state.
"These fish are very sensitive to their social surroundings which ultimately determine whether they will become male or female," he said of the study conducted along with the University of California, Santa Barbara.
The fish have developed their flexible gender structure to increase their chances of breeding, the study that was published in the scientific journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences [said]. [News]
Based on "A social basis for the development of primary males in a sex-changing fish" (Abstract)
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