Social familiarity improves fast-start escape performance in schooling fish

Nadler, Lauren E., McCormick, Mark I., Johansen, Jacob L., and Domenici, Paolo (2021) Social familiarity improves fast-start escape performance in schooling fish. Communications Biology, 4 (1). 897.

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Using social groups (i.e. schools) of the tropical damselfish Chromis viridis, we test how familiarity through repeated social interactions influences fast-start responses, the primary defensive behaviour in a range of taxa, including fish, sharks, and larval amphibians. We focus on reactivity through response latency and kinematic performance (i.e. agility and propulsion) following a simulated predator attack, while distinguishing between first and subsequent responders (direct response to stimulation versus response triggered by integrated direct and social stimulation, respectively). In familiar schools, first and subsequent responders exhibit shorter latency than unfamiliar individuals, demonstrating that familiarity increases reactivity to direct and, potentially, social stimulation. Further, familiarity modulates kinematic performance in subsequent responders, demonstrated by increased agility and propulsion. These findings demonstrate that the benefits of social recognition and memory may enhance individual fitness through greater survival of predator attacks.

Item ID: 69958
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 2399-3642
Copyright Information: Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit
Funders: ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies
Projects and Grants: ARC E1140100117
Date Deposited: 04 Apr 2022 23:24
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