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The effect of sex and shoal size on shoaling behaviour in Danio rerio

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Male and female zebra fish Danio rerio were given choices of shoals that differed in sex and size. Male zebra fish preferred to associate with female shoals over male shoals, but had no preference when given a choice between a mixed‐sex shoal and either a male or female shoal. Female zebra fish showed no significant preference when given a choice between male and females shoals, nor between mixed‐sex shoals and either male or female shoals. When given choices between shoals of differing size, females preferred to associate with the larger shoal, whether or not they were composed of males or females. Males, however, had no preference for larger shoals over smaller shoals, whether or not they were composed of males or females. These results showed that male zebra fish were capable of distinguishing between males and females solely on the basis of visual cues. Furthermore, these results demonstrated a significant difference between the shoaling choices of male and female zebra fish, which may indicate a difference in the function of shoaling for the two sexes.
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Keywords: Danio rerio; gender; shoal size; shoaling behaviour

Document Type: Regular Paper

Affiliations: Department of Biology, St Joseph's University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 19131, U.S.A.

Publication date: 2005-10-01

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