Using 3D animations to study social learning in fish (#87)
In rapidly changing environments, such as freshwater streams, information about resources quickly becomes obsolete. For animals vulnerable to predation, learning from other individuals, or social learning, provides a quick and low cost option to gather information. The ninespine sticklebacks (Pungitius pungitius) and the Trinidadian guppy (Poecilia reticulata) display social learning, but understanding the mechanisms and factors that modulate an individual' propensity to use this information requires fine-tuning of behavioural stimuli. I therefore created and presented computer-animated stimuli to investigate the specific behaviour patterns that fish use to socially acquire information. Fish were subjected to choice test in which we varied specific behaviours of their conspecifics. These test showed that the food-striking behaviour is crucial for fish to gather information on patch richness. This study is unique by its use of 3D computer animations to study social learning of fish, and by the precision at which it investigates information transfer mechanisms.