Mechanisms underlying shoal composition in the Trinidadian guppy, Poecilia reticulata

DP Croft, BJ Arrowsmith, J Bielby, K Skinner, E White, ID Couzin, Anne Elizabeth Magurran, I Ramnarine, J Krause

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

164 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Free-ranging groups are frequently assorted by phenotypic characters. However, very little is known about the underlying processes that determine this structuring. In this study, we investigate the mechanisms underlying the phenotypic composition of shoals of guppies (Poecilia reticulata) in a high-predation stream in Trinidad's Northern Mountain Range. We collected 57 entire wild shoals, which were strongly assorted by body length. Shoal encounters staged within all experimental arena showed shoal fission (but not fusion) events to be an important mechanism ill generating phenotypic assortment. In the wild, fission and fusion between guppy shoals occurred extremely frequently and thus are unlikely to constrain the opportunities for shoal assortment. However, fission and fusion processes occur under the restrictions imposed by the distribution of individuals within the environment. We observed size specific segregation within the habitat in three dimensions, providing a passive mechanism that contributes to the maintenance of the observed homogeneity of group composition. Furthermore sex differences were found in social behaviour. Individual male guppies switched between shoals more frequently than females and left a shoal more often than females. We argue that shoal composition is determined by habitat segregation on a medium spatial scale and by fission/fusion processes oil a small spatial scale (with sex-specific shoal dynamics adding a additional layer of complexity).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)429-438
Number of pages10
JournalOikos
Volume100
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2003

Keywords

  • TROUT SALMO-TRUTTA
  • PREDATION RISK
  • BROWN TROUT
  • FISH SHOALS
  • ANTIPREDATOR BEHAVIOR
  • SOCIAL-ORGANIZATION
  • FORAGING MINNOWS
  • ATLANTIC SALMON
  • YELLOW PERCH
  • SIZE

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