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Environmental factors determine whether immigrants are accepted by cooperatively breeding animals
Date:2/6/2013

e to immigrants and more likely to accept the unknown and unrelated fish as a member of their group when they are simultaneously exposed to predators. They concluded that cichlid fish are more likely to accept immigrants into their group when they are under threat from predators and can be used to increase their defences.

Dr Zӧttl added: "Our fish resemble human societies' view of immigration in two crucial aspects: The need for help in the territory takes precedence, and it seems to be a strategy of the territory holders to accept immigrants only when they need assistance with territory defence. This resembles human societies which organise immigration according to the demand in the society by encouraging skilled immigration when certain types of labour are in short supply."

The researchers also found that the fish appear to consider future threats. When egg predators were presented to a breeding pair who had not yet spawned they accepted new incomers. Their acceptance of reinforcements in the form of immigrant fish suggests that that the egg predator was viewed as a threat.

Dr Zӧttl concluded: "This behaviour suggests that breeders of this species might be able to anticipate a potential threat and it seems to resemble the future planning evident in birds and apes."


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Contact: Genevieve Maul
gm349@admin.cam.ac.uk
44-012-237-65542
University of Cambridge
Source:Eurekalert

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