The carotenoid trade-off hypothesis states that diet-derived carotenoids are traded off among competing physiological demands, but this statement is rarely tested in ornamented females. In this study, reverse sexually dimorphic convict cichlids (Amantitlania nigrofasciata) were fed diets containing carotenoid supplementation at three biologically relevant levels for 12 wk. This treatment was followed by spectral, microscopic, and chemical analysis to determine how females allocated the pigments to tissues and how those decisions affected their ventral patch coloration. Yellow coloration of the integument increased with carotenoids in the diet, as did carotenoids deposited in ovaries, but diet did not change carotenoid allocation to skin. The results of this study suggest that females have the ability to modulate their expression of yellow coloration via an alternative coloration strategy. Gonadosomatic index and tank environment were also related to ventral patch color, supporting previous behavioral work highlighting the importance of social selection in reinforcing signal honesty.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Animal Science and Zoology