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Capture technique and fish personality: angling targets timid bluegill sunfish, Lepomis macrochirus

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Size-selective harvesting associated with commercial and recreational fishing practices has been shown to alter life history traits through a phenomenon known as fishing-induced evolution. This phenomenon may be a result of selection pathways targeting life-history traits directly or indirectly through correlations with behavioral traits. Here, we report on the relationship between individual differences in behavior and capture technique (beach seining versus angling) in wild-caught juvenile bluegill sunfish (Lepomis macrochirus). Both fish caught by using a seine net (seined) and fish caught by using a lure (angled) were individually tested under standardized laboratory conditions for their boldness, water-column use, and general activity. Observed inter-individual differences in boldness were strongly correlated with method of capture in the wild. Fish caught by angling were more timid and had fewer ectoparasites than fish caught using a seine net. However, this relationship did not carry over to an experiment in a large outdoor pool with seine-caught, individually tagged wild fish, where bolder individuals were more likely to be angled in open water away from refuges than more timid individuals, based on their previously assessed boldness scores. Our study is both novel and important, as it describes the relationship between capture technique and boldness in a natural population and underscores the potential risk of sampling biases associated with method of animal capture for behavioral, population, and conservation biologists.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: May 10, 2011

More about this publication?
  • Published continuously since 1901 (under various titles), this monthly journal is the primary publishing vehicle for the multidisciplinary field of aquatic sciences. It publishes perspectives (syntheses, critiques, and re-evaluations), discussions (comments and replies), articles, and rapid communications, relating to current research on cells, organisms, populations, ecosystems, or processes that affect aquatic systems. The journal seeks to amplify, modify, question, or redirect accumulated knowledge in the field of fisheries and aquatic science. Occasional supplements are dedicated to single topics or to proceedings of international symposia.
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