Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Swimming with hormones: Researchers unravel ancient urges that drive the social decisions of fish

Date:
October 9, 2012
Source:
McMaster University
Summary:
Researchers have discovered that a form of oxytocin—the hormone responsible for making humans fall in love—has a similar effect on fish, suggesting it is a key regulator of social behaviour that has evolved and endured since ancient times.

Neolamprologus pulcher.
Credit: By Guιrin Nicolas (Own work) [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Researchers have discovered that a form of oxytocin -- the hormone responsible for making humans fall in love -- has a similar effect on fish, suggesting it is a key regulator of social behaviour that has evolved and endured since ancient times.

Related Articles


The findings, published in the latest edition of the journal Animal Behaviour, help answer an important evolutionary question: why do some species develop complex social behaviours while others spend much of their lives alone?

"We know how this hormone affects humans," explains Adam Reddon, lead researcher and a graduate student in the Department of Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour at McMaster University. "It is related to love, monogamy, even risky behaviour, but much less is known about its effects on fish."

Specifically, researchers examined the cichlid fish Neolamprologus pulcher, a highly social species found in Lake Tanganyika in Africa.

These cichlids are unusual because they form permanent hierarchical social groups made up of a dominant breeding pair and many helpers that look after the young and defend their territory.

For the experiments, researchers injected the cichlids with either isotocin -- a "fish version" of oxytocin -- or a control saline solution.

When placed in a simulated territorial competition with a single perceived rival, the isotocin-treated fish were more aggressive towards large opponents, regardless of their own size.

When placed in a larger group situation, isotocin-treated fish became more submissive when faced with aggression from more dominant group members. Such signals are important in this species because they placate the dominant members of the group, say researchers.

"The hormone increases responsiveness to social information and may act as an important social glue," says Reddon. "It ensures the fish handle conflict well and remain a cohesive group because they will have shorter, less costly fights."

"We already knew that this class of neuropeptides are ancient and are found in nearly all vertebrate groups," says Sigal Balshine, a professor in the Department of Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour. "What is especially exciting about these findings, is that they bolster the idea that function of these hormones, as modulators of social behaviour, has also been conserved."


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Adam R. Reddon, Constance M. O'Connor, Susan E. Marsh-Rollo, Sigal Balshine. Effects of isotocin on social responses in a cooperatively breeding fish. Animal Behaviour, 2012; 84 (4): 753 DOI: 10.1016/j.anbehav.2012.07.021

Cite This Page:

McMaster University. "Swimming with hormones: Researchers unravel ancient urges that drive the social decisions of fish." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 October 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121009101342.htm>.
McMaster University. (2012, October 9). Swimming with hormones: Researchers unravel ancient urges that drive the social decisions of fish. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121009101342.htm
McMaster University. "Swimming with hormones: Researchers unravel ancient urges that drive the social decisions of fish." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121009101342.htm (accessed November 29, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Research on Bats Could Help Develop Drugs Against Ebola

Research on Bats Could Help Develop Drugs Against Ebola

AFP (Nov. 28, 2014) — In Africa's only biosafety level 4 laboratory, scientists have been carrying out experiments on bats to understand how virus like Ebola are being transmitted, and how some of them resist to it. Duration: 01:18 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Dinosaur Species Found in Museum Collection

New Dinosaur Species Found in Museum Collection

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 27, 2014) — A British palaeontologist has discovered a new species of dinosaur while studying fossils in a Canadian museum. Pentaceratops aquilonius was related to Triceratops and lived at the end of the Cretaceous Period, around 75 million years ago. Jim Drury has more. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Tryptophan Isn't Making You Sleepy On Thanksgiving

Tryptophan Isn't Making You Sleepy On Thanksgiving

Newsy (Nov. 27, 2014) — Tryptophan, a chemical found naturally in turkey meat, gets blamed for sleepiness after Thanksgiving meals. But science points to other culprits. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Classic Hollywood Memorabilia Goes Under the Hammer

Classic Hollywood Memorabilia Goes Under the Hammer

Reuters - Entertainment Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) — The iconic piano from "Casablanca" and the Cowardly Lion suit from "The Wizard of Oz" fetch millions at auction. Sara Hemrajani reports. Video provided by Reuters
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

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