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Fish diet to avoid fights
Date:5/12/2008

fic view of how dominant individuals retain their position in a hierarchy. Previously it was thought that large individuals simply used their weight and size to terrorise their subordinates and grab more of the food for themselves, so keeping their rivals small.

The CoECRS team has established that subordinate members of the group can voluntarily go on a diet to avoid provoking conflict.

While the habits of gobies among the less glamorous of coral reef fish may seem a little arcane, Dr Wong explains that understanding the relationships between dominant and subordinate animals is important to understanding how hierarchical societies remain stable. Gobies provide the perfect experimental species as they are easy to observe and can be trained to feed from artificial food sources.

The research has highlighted the fact that voluntary dieting is a habit far from exclusive to humans and appears to reach back at least as far as our fishy ancestors, although different species may diet for quite different reasons.

As yet, we lack a complete understanding of how widespread the self-imposed reduction of food intake is in nature, and how it benefits individuals, the researchers comment.

Data on human dieting suggests that, while humans generally diet to improve health or increase attractiveness, rarely does it improve long-term health and males regularly prefer females that are fatter than the females own ideal.


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Contact: Marian Wong
marian.wong@graduates.jcu.edu.au
905-921-3858
ARC Centre of Excellence in Coral Reef Studies
Source:Eurekalert

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