Social learning of foraging sites and escape routes in wild Trinidadian guppies

S M Reader, J R Kendal, Kevin Neville Laland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

103 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

We describe two field experiments with wild guppies, Poecilia reticulata, in Trinidad that demonstrated that guppies can acquire foraging and predator escape-response information from conspecifics. In the foraging experiment, subjects were presented with two distinctly marked feeders in their home rivers. One feeder contained a conspecific shoal in a transparent container. Guppies preferred to enter the feeder containing this artificial shoal over the other feeder. In a test phase, the artificial shoal was removed and the feeders replaced at the testing site after a 5-min delay. More guppies entered the feeder that had contained the artificial shoal over the other feeder, a difference that can be explained only by the fish learning the characteristics or location of the feeder during the training phase. We suggest that subjects acquired a foraging patch preference through a propensity to approach feeding conspecifics, a local enhancement process. In the predator escape-response experiment, naive 'observer' guppies could avoid an approaching trawl net by escaping through either a hole to which 'demonstrator' guppies had been trained or through an alternative hole. When the demonstrators were present, the naive observers escaped more often and more rapidly by the demonstrated route than the alternative route. When the demonstrators were removed, observers maintained a route preference according to the training of their demonstrators, which suggests that the observers had learned an escape route through following or observing their more knowledgeable conspecifics. Thus, both experiments reveal that guppies can socially learn in the wild. (C) 2003 The Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)729-739
Number of pages11
JournalAnimal Behaviour
Volume66
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2003

Keywords

  • CORAL-REEF FISH
  • POECILIA-RETICULATA
  • SCHOOLING BEHAVIOR
  • POPULATION DIFFERENCES
  • INFORMATION-TRANSFER
  • TRANSMISSION
  • EVOLUTION
  • CONFORMITY
  • CHOICE
  • INNOVATIONS

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