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Familiarity-biased patterns of association shift with time among European minnows

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Replicated, naturalistic mesocosms were used to investigate whether pre-existing preferences for familiar individuals decay when opportunities to form new alliances arise. In each trial, two groups of wild European minnows Phoxinus phoxinus were introduced to a common environment, and their association patterns monitored continuously over a 3 week period using passive integrated transponder (PIT) tags. Individuals within a group were familiar, but had no previous experience of the other group. European minnows associated initially with previously familiar individuals more frequently than expected by chance. This preference then diminished over a period of 2 weeks following their encounter with the unfamiliar group of fish and was not detectable by the third week. Instead, new association patterns resulting from non-random re-assortment of individuals over time were evident. The results show that new alliances between individuals form when wild shoals coalesce.

Keywords: Phoxinus phoxinus; group living; individual recognition; passive integrated transponder; semi-natural; shoaling behaviour

Document Type: Regular Paper


Affiliations: 1: Cardiff School of Biosciences, Biomedical Sciences Building, Cardiff University, Cardiff, Wales, CF10 3US, U.K. 2: School of Biology, Gatty Marine Laboratory, University of St Andrews, St Andrews, Fife, Scotland, KY16 8LB, U.K. 3: Fisheries Research Services, Freshwater Laboratory, Faskally, Pitlochry, Perthshire, Scotland, PH16 5LB, U.K.

Publication date: 2007-12-01

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