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Effects of high food-demand fish removal in groups of juvenile sea bass (Dicentrarchus labrax)

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In self-feeding conditions, a few individual sea bass (Dicentrarchus labrax (L., 1758)) display strong activity in striking the food dispenser, whereas the remaining individuals of the group actuate the feeder weakly or never. Here, we investigated the effects of removal of the individuals showing dominant activity on the social and feeding behaviours in groups of juvenile sea bass. Following removal, new fish showing a dominant self-feeding activity quickly appear. They always come from the group of fish that have a low number of triggering actuations. This observation shows that it takes less time, about 5 days after the removal of dominant triggerers vs. 14 days at the beginning, for the re-establishment of the behavioural structure, suggesting the possibility of social transmission between individuals. The fish that show weak triggering activity seem to reach the high-food triggering level without obvious signs of competition. This experiment reveals the importance of the food-demand behavioural structure: the fish displaying the highest activity lead to a general food distribution and play a dominant role in feeding the entire group. Functional plasticity in this role within individuals is also demonstrated, indicating that the high-triggering function is essential for the group and not for the individual themselves.

Au sein d’un groupe de bars (Dicentrarchus labrax (L., 1758)) placés en auto-nourrissage, quelques individus disposent d’une activité forte de déclenchement volontaire du distributeur d’aliments. Les autres poissons du groupe disposent d’une activité de demande faible voire nulle. Ici, nous avons étudié l’impact du retrait des poissons à forte activité sur le comportement alimentaire et social de groupes de bars juvéniles. De nouveaux individus à forte activité réapparaissent rapidement, provenant exclusivement de la classe de poissons de faible demande. Cinq jours en moyenne suffisent après le retrait, contre 14 jours au début de l’expérience, pour que la structure comportementale se rétablisse suggérant l’existence d’une transmission sociale entre les individus. Ces poissons de faible activité semblent de plus atteindre leur nouvelle fonction sans aucun signe de compétition. Cette expérience révèle d’abord l’importance de la structure de la demande alimentaire puisqu’elle réapparaît après le retrait. Elle montre également que l’activité des forts manipulateurs conduit à une distribution générale de l’aliment et contribue à nourrir le groupe en entier. L’étude montre enfin une plasticité fonctionnelle indiquant que seule la fonction de manipulateur fort est essentiel pour la stabilité du groupe, non l’identité des individus par elle-même.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2008

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  • Published since 1929, this monthly journal reports on primary research contributed by respected international scientists in the broad field of zoology, including behaviour, biochemistry and physiology, developmental biology, ecology, genetics, morphology and ultrastructure, parasitology and pathology, and systematics and evolution. It also invites experts to submit review articles on topics of current interest.
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