Shape learning and discrimination in reef fish

Siebeck, U. E., Litherland, L. and Wallis, G. M. (2009) Shape learning and discrimination in reef fish. Journal of Experimental Biology, 212 13: 2112-2118. doi:10.1242/jeb.028936

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Author Siebeck, U. E.
Litherland, L.
Wallis, G. M.
Title Shape learning and discrimination in reef fish
Journal name Journal of Experimental Biology   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0022-0949
Publication date 2009-07-01
Year available 2009
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1242/jeb.028936
Open Access Status File (Publisher version)
Volume 212
Issue 13
Start page 2112
End page 2118
Total pages 7
Editor Julian A. T. Dow
Steve Perry
Hans Hoppeler
Place of publication Cambridge, U.K.
Publisher Company of Biologists
Collection year 2010
Language eng
Subject C1
830102 Aquaculture Fin Fish (excl. Tuna)
110906 Sensory Systems
060805 Animal Neurobiology
060201 Behavioural Ecology
Formatted abstract
Coral reef fish live in a complex world of colour and patterns. If they are to survive they need to be able to correctly identify the things they see (e.g. predators, prey) and act accordingly (e.g. flee, feed). This paper investigates whether discrimination is limited to ecologically relevant stimuli or is in fact more adaptable. Our work focuses on the reef damselfish Pomacentrus amboinensis. Within a day or two of capture the fish demonstrated an ability to associate an arbitrary stimulus with a food reward and to discriminate the reward stimulus from a distractor matched along various physical dimensions. In our initial experiments the reward was directly associated with the target. In the final experiment, however, the reward was separated from the target in both space and time, thereby eliminating a weakness applicable to the majority of food reward experiments involving fish; namely, the presence of olfactory cues emanating from the feeding tubes. All fish were not only able to solve this task but also showed anticipatory behaviour (also referred to as goal tracking). We conclude that freshly caught reef fish not only are able to quickly learn and discriminate between novel stimuli on the basis of shape but are also able to interpret stimuli as a predictor for the availability of food at a different time and place (anticipatory behaviour).
Keyword Classical conditioning
Goal tracking
Reef fish
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

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Created: Thu, 10 Sep 2009, 10:58:58 EST by Cameron Harris on behalf of School of Biomedical Sciences