Diffusion of foraging innovations in the guppy

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106 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The way in which novel learned behaviour patterns spread through animal populations remains poorly understood, despite extensive field research and the recognition that such processes play an important role in the behavioural development, social interactions and evolution of many animal species. We conducted a series of controlled diffusions of foraging information in replicate experimental populations of the guppy, Paecilia reticulata. We presented novel foraging tasks over 15 trials to mixed-sex groups, made up of food-deprived and nonfood-deprived adults (experiment 1) or small, young fish and old, large adults (experiment 2). In these diffusions, knowledge of a route to a feeder could spread through the group by subjects learning from others, discovering the route for themselves, or, most likely, by some combination of these social and asocial learning processes. We found a striking sex difference, with novel foraging information spreading at a significantly faster rate through subgroups of females than of males. Females both discovered the goal and learned the route more quickly than males. Food-deprived individuals were faster at completing the tasks over the 15 trials than nonfood-deprived guppies, and there was a significant interaction between sex and size, with a sex difference in adults but not young individuals. There was also an interaction between sex and hunger level, with food deprivation having a stronger effect on male than female performance. We suggest that information may diffuse in a similar nonrandom or 'directed' manner through many natural populations of animals. (C) 2000 The Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)175-180
Number of pages6
JournalAnimal Behaviour
Volume60
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2000

Keywords

  • ACCELERATING LEARNING RATES
  • POECILIA-RETICULATA
  • SCHOOLING BEHAVIOR
  • FEEDING-BEHAVIOR
  • CAPUCHIN MONKEYS
  • FEMALE GUPPIES
  • INFORMATION
  • TRANSMISSION
  • PREFERENCES
  • PREDATION

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