Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Brain size determines whether fish are hunters or slackers

Date:
August 4, 2010
Source:
University of Guelph
Summary:
Whether a fish likes to hunt down its food or wait for dinner to arrive is linked to the composition of its brain.

Whether a fish likes to hunt down its food or wait for dinner to arrive is linked to the composition of its brain, a University of Guelph researcher has revealed.

Prof. Rob McLaughlin has discovered that foraging behaviour of brook trout is related to the size of a particular region in the fish's brain.

"We found that the fish that swim around in the open in search of food have larger telencephalons than the fish that sit along the shoreline and wait for food to swim by in the water column," said the integrative biology professor.

"This means there is a correlation between foraging behaviour and brain morphology."

The telencephalon is a brain region involved with fish movement and use of space.

"It's responsible for a fish's ability to swim around to different places and remember landmarks in the environment so they don't get lost."

In previous research, McLaughlin discovered that brook trout display two personality types: fish that are active foragers and appear to be risk takers, and those that are sedentary and apparently more timid.

"These are young fish that have been foraging for less than a month, and we are already seeing a difference in the propensity to take risks and move around. This made us wonder if these differences were significant biologically."

For the current research, which was recently published in the journal Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, McLaughlin and researcher Alexander Wilson collected these two types of fish from the Credit River near Toronto and measured the size of their telencephalon region.

They also measured the brain's olfactory bulb to ensure that the active foragers did not simply have larger brains overall than the sedentary fish.

"We found there was no significant difference in the size of the olfactory bulb between the two types of fish," he said. "We picked this part of the brain because trout are visual feeders, so the olfactory bulb is not tied to foraging, and it's also an area that's near the telencephalon."

Although this research has shown that the fish's feeding activity is tied to brain structure, McLaughlin said it is still unclear whether behavioural differences reflect initial differences in the brain or whether the brain changes in response to differences in behaviour.

"It's possible there is something in the environment or in the fish's genetic makeup that is making some fish more active than others, and this level of activity is altering the brain," he said.

"There is evidence that fish are plastic and can change structure based on where neurons are developing more rapidly."

Either way, this finding will help in understanding the neural mechanism behind different foraging behaviours observed in wild animal populations.

"It's a huge step towards understanding why different types of personalities exist in the same species and how diversity arises in a population. We tend to focus on our impact on the environment and how our actions are reducing biodiversity and overlook processes in the environment that may be creating diversity."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Guelph. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Alexander D. M. Wilson, Robert L. McLaughlin. Foraging behaviour and brain morphology in recently emerged brook charr, Salvelinus fontinalis. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 2010; DOI: 10.1007/s00265-010-1002-4

Cite This Page:

University of Guelph. "Brain size determines whether fish are hunters or slackers." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 August 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100804093201.htm>.
University of Guelph. (2010, August 4). Brain size determines whether fish are hunters or slackers. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100804093201.htm
University of Guelph. "Brain size determines whether fish are hunters or slackers." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100804093201.htm (accessed July 30, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Otters Enjoy Water Slides at Japan Zoo

Raw: Otters Enjoy Water Slides at Japan Zoo

AP (July 30, 2014) River otters were hitting the water slides to beat the summer heatwave on Wednesday at Ichikawa City's Zoological and Botanical Garden. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast

In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast

AP (July 30, 2014) Every summer, tourists make the pilgrimage to Chincoteague Island, Va. to see wild ponies cross the Assateague Channel. But, it's the rockets sending to supplies to the International Space Station that are making this a year-round destination. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Rodents Rampant in Gardens Around Louvre

Rodents Rampant in Gardens Around Louvre

AP (July 29, 2014) Food scraps and other items left on the grounds by picnickers brings unwelcome visitors to the grounds of the world famous and popular Louvre Museum in Paris. (July 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Jane Goodall Warns Great Apes Face Extinction

Jane Goodall Warns Great Apes Face Extinction

AFP (July 29, 2014) The world's great apes face extinction within decades, renowned chimpanzee expert Jane Goodall warned Tuesday in a call to arms to ensure man's closest relatives are not wiped out. Duration: 00:58 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins