Habitat-specific chemical cues influence association preferences and shoal cohesion in fish

M. M. Webster, J. Goldsmith, A. J. W. Ward, P. J. B. Hart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The structure of social animal groups can be dynamic, characterized by high rates of group fission and fusion. Despite this, group composition is often well ordered by factors such as species, body size and by numerous other phenotypic traits. Research in shoaling fishes has revealed that individuals refine group membership decisions still further and are capable of assimilating chemical cues pertaining to recent habitat and prey use by prospective group mates, preferring to associate with others whose recent resource use history closely matches their own. In this study, we firstly examined the dynamics of the formation and breakdown of these preferences, revealing that they can be acquired and replaced in a matter of just a few hours. Using such cues enables individuals to accurately assess the resource use of conspecifics, allowing them to indirectly sample the local environment while reducing the chances of acquiring outdated information that can precipitate maladaptive behaviors. Secondly, we found that shoals composed of individuals with shared recent habitat use history were more cohesive compared to those where the constituent individuals differed in recent habitat use. Increased shoal cohesion may reduce predation risk, and could enhance the ability of individuals to detect and use social information.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)273-280
Number of pages8
JournalBehavioral Ecology and Sociobiology
Volume62
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2007

Keywords

  • social organization
  • social information
  • familiarity
  • recognition
  • shoaling
  • WILD GUPPY POPULATION
  • PHENOTYPIC PLASTICITY
  • FORAGING INFORMATION
  • SCHOOL FIDELITY
  • PREDATION RISK
  • FAMILIAR FISH
  • GROUP-SIZE
  • STICKLEBACKS
  • BEHAVIOR
  • RECOGNITION

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