Rapid learning of shelter position in an intertidal fish, the shanny Lipophrys pholis L.
The homing ability of an intertidal fish, the shanny Lipophrys pholis, was investigated using two experiments that were based on the shanny’s natural propensity to home to a refuge. A displacement experiment demonstrated that the fish were able to accurately locate the previous position of a refuge once the shelter itself had been removed so that it could not be used as a cue to directly signal the goal location. This shows that the shanny can encode information about its familiar surroundings into a spatial map and use this information to home. A second experiment in which the cues internal and external to the experimental tank were put in conflict with one another suggested that the shanny can encode cues that are both intra- and external-tank cues in its representation of space, but that there is individual variation in the type of cues that are used, or memorized.