Wednesday 23 March 2016

Fish bond when they eat the same food

Date:March 22, 2016
Source:University of Lincoln

Similar-smelling chemical cues could explain why some animals choose to live together with other species, according to new research from scientists at the University of Lincoln, UK.

Published in the scientific journal Behavioural Ecology and Sociobiology, the research found that for some fish it makes more sense to swim around with those that share their taste in food -- and smell similar in the process -- than to shoal with members of their own species. The findings highlight the role that chemical cues might play in creating familiarity and group bonds between members of different species.

Led by Tanja Kleinhappel, a PhD researcher in the School of Life Sciences at the University of Lincoln, the study is the first to group members of different free swimming shoals of fish together to investigate how bonds between different species form.

The research team caught a number of three-spined sticklebacks (Gasterosteus aculeatus) and nine-spined sticklebacks (Pungitius pungitius) from local rivers and streams. In nature, these two species live side by side, yet individuals are also known to shoal together. The Lincoln team carefully planned what individual fish ate, and the groups into which they were placed.

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