Phenotype matching and early social conditions affect shoaling and exploration decisions

Miguel Barbosa, Morelia Camacho-Cervantes, Alfredo F. Ojanguren

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Early social conditions are vital for the establishment of future social interactions. Less, however, is known about how differences in early social conditions contribute to the process of individual recognition and subsequently in the decision of associating and exploring behaviours. In this study, we address this gap in the Trinidadian guppy Poecilia reticulata and test the prediction that fish would show a higher tendency to recognize and associate with individuals of similar phenotype. This prediction was tested by comparing the likelihood of association and latency to explore a novel area in males and females when in the presence of individuals that were familiar (reared together but from different populations), from the same population of origin (from the same population but deprived of interaction with each other), or were unfamiliar (different population and have never interacted). Both early social conditions and population of origin (phenotype matching) affected the tendency to shoal and explore. Females, but not males, exhibited identical preference to associate either with unfamiliar females as with familiar females from a different population. Importantly, female preference did not occur with unfamiliar individuals from a different population. In contrast with our prediction, tendency to shoal did not predict exploration propensity. Males always start exploration before the group whenever unfamiliar males composed the group. Females on the other hand only moved to the novel area after seeing the group doing so, revealing sexual dimorphism in exploratory behaviour. Our results provide evidence for a familiarity and phenotypic matching recognition mechanism at the population level and also highlight the importance of accounting for differences between sexes when investigating the effects of early social conditions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)171-179
Number of pages9
Issue number2
Early online date6 Jan 2016
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2016


  • Exploration
  • Familiarization
  • Ontogeny
  • Phenotypic matching
  • Shoaling


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