Endler's Livebearer ~ a colorful jewel by any classification
© Alan S. Bias
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Peocilia Wingei or Peocilia Reticulata? I've been keeping breeding colonies of this Liverbearer for nearly a decade now. Mostly for simple observation and enjoyment. While doing an occasional cross with acknowledged strains of guppies, mostly they just grace my larger planted tanks in breeding colonies. Harmoniously existing with an admixture of other Livebearers, Tetras, Cori's and Cherry Shrimp.
So Endlers Livebearer or Cumana' Guppy? More recent studies hint at what some of us have long wondered. That being, did scientific classification as a separate species come to early? With so little differentiation in mtDNA how could this be justified? The intense coloration of Endler's is not totally unique to them. Several strains of aquarium guppies also posses similar expression of color. I routinely breed for it with my grey bodied Vienna Lower Swordtails. It is rarely seen in conjunction with excessive size.
Yet, how would it be possible that such a unique phenotype is not bred out of existence in the wild if truly just a variant? Current studies suggest that female sexual preference is largely responsible for the existence of Endler's as a recognizable population of guppies within the same range of more traditional populations of guppies. A few years back such a novel approach might have been scoffed at by aquarists.
Published works on phenotype in isolated populations of guppies as influenced by female sexual preference have long been a popular topic in scientific studies. Now we read similar results on the occurrence of phenotypical variations of Poecilia Picta & Poecilia Parae species. Not only is shape and size affected by this selection, but also color and pattern.
While I suspect the debate will go on for some years to come, this hypothesis lends much credence to the evolution and existence of Endler's in wild populations of guppies.