At odds with the group: changes in lateralization and escape performance reveal conformity and conflict in fish schools

Chivers, Douglas P., McCormick, Mark I., Allan, Bridie J. M., Mitchell, Matthew D., Gonçalves, Emanuel J., Bryshun, Reid, and Ferrari, Maud C.O. (2016) At odds with the group: changes in lateralization and escape performance reveal conformity and conflict in fish schools. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B, Biological Sciences, 283. 20161127. pp. 1-8.

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Many vertebrates are known to show behavioural lateralization, whereby they differentially use one side of their body or either of their bilateral organs or limbs. Behavioural lateralization often manifests in a turning bias in fishes, with some individuals showing a left bias and others a right bias. Such biases could be the source of considerable conflict in fish schools given that there may be considerable social pressure to conform to the group to maintain effective group evasion. Here, we show that predation pressure is a major determinant of the degree of lateralization, both in a relative and absolute sense, in yellow-and-blueback fusiliers (Caesio teres), a schooling fish common on coral reefs. Wild-caught fish showed a bias for right turning. When predation pressure was experimentally elevated or relaxed, the strength of lateralization changed. Higher predation pressure resulted in an increase in the strength of lateralization. Individuals that exhibited the same turning bias as the majority of individuals in their group had improved escape performance compared with individuals that were at odds with the group. Moreover, individuals that were right-biased had improved escape performance, compared with left-biased ones. Plasticity in lateralization might be an important evolutionary consequence of the way gregarious species respond to predators owing to the probable costs associated with this behaviour.

Item ID: 47764
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1471-2954
Keywords: group living, schooling, predation, alarm cues, behavioural lateralization, coral reef fish
Funders: Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, Canada, Australian Research Council (ARC), ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies (CECRS)
Date Deposited: 31 Mar 2017 01:22
FoR Codes: 31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310302 Community ecology (excl. invasive species ecology) @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960808 Marine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 100%
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