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A test of the senses in the search for a shoal mate
Date:3/10/2012

heard by fish from 100s to 1000s of metres. Once in the right proximity, they can then sniff out their preferred nursery habitats."

In the third experiment, the team tested whether fish were attracted to the sights of suitable habitat or to potential shoal mates. Observing their behaviour in a square arena, they found that fish couldn't pick apart different types of habitat, but were highly attracted to the sight of a familiar looking fish.

Finally, to test the strength of this attraction to other fish, the team went back to their olfactory y-maze, and let fish identify their preferred scent, before opening a window that let the study fish see other individuals. They then switched the smells, but found that the fish ignored the loss of their preferred scent and opted to stay in sight of their new shoal mates. This suggests that once visual contact has been made, other cues become less important. Their mission has been accomplished.

Dr Steve Simpson of the University of Bristol said: "This study is the first to look at the hierarchy of different sensory cues that allow young fish to complete a life-or-death navigational task. Hearing then smell guides fish at the macro scale, but at the fine scale vision takes over as the fish locate their new shoal mates."

Dr Ivan Nagelkerken of the Radboud University Nijmegen said: "This study demonstrates the complex behaviour employed by young juvenile coral reef fish, and highlights the importance of maintaining a mosaic of different habitats and healthy local populations in order for the French grunt, and many fish like it, to complete their life cycle."


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Contact: Hannah Johnson
hannah.johnson@bristol.ac.uk
44-117-928-8896
University of Bristol
Source:Eurekalert

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