Friday, January 26, 2007

Friday Fish: Astatotilapia burtoni

I'm not sure these guys have a common name, except perhaps "Burton's Cichlid". I posted this Friday fish because of a very recent paper in Nature, by Grosenick et al. (2007), in which learning behaviour is described in males of this species. Learning in fish is nothing new, actually - goldfish can be trained, and lots of other basic learning behaviour has been observed. What's interesting about this research is that the males learning about social heirarchies (of conspecifics) had no direct contact with the individuals and social settings they were learning about. In other words, these fish figured out who was dominant and who was submissive without ever actually experiencing a direct interaction with anybody else.

Image credit link.

Literature Cited:

Grosenick L, Clement TS, Fernald RD. 2007. Fish can infer social rank by observation alone. Nature 445: 429-432

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