Metabolic costs of feeding predictively alter the spatial distribution of individuals in fish schools

McLean, S., Persson, A., Norin, T. and Killen, S. S. (2018) Metabolic costs of feeding predictively alter the spatial distribution of individuals in fish schools. Current Biology, 28(7), 1144-1149.e4. (doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2018.02.043) (PMID:29576472)

157521.pdf - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.



Group living is ubiquitous among animals [1, 2], but the exact benefits of group living experienced by individual groupmates is related to their spatial location within the overall group [3, 4, 5]. Individual variation in behavioral traits and nutritional state is known to affect interactions between individuals and their social group [6, 7], but physiological mechanisms underpinning collective animal behavior remain largely unexplored [8]. Here, we show that while fish at the front of moving groups are most successful at capturing food items, these individuals then show a systematic, post-feeding movement toward the rear of groups. Using observations of fish feeding in groups coupled with estimates of metabolic rate in fish consuming different meal sizes, we demonstrate that the magnitude of this shift in spatial position is directly related to the aerobic metabolic scope remaining after accounting for energetic costs of digestion. While previous work has shown that hungry individuals occupy anterior positions in moving groups [9, 10], our results show that the metabolic demand of food processing reduces the aerobic capacity available for locomotion in individuals that eat most, thus preventing them from maintaining leading positions. This basic trade-off between feeding and locomotor capacity could fundamentally dictate the spatial position of individuals within groups, perhaps obviating the role of individual traits in determining spatial preferences over shorter timescales (e.g., hours to days). This may be a general constraint for individuals within animal collectives, representing a key, yet overlooked, mediator of group functioning that could affect leadership, social information transfer, and group decision making.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Killen, Professor Shaun and Persson, Anna and Norin, Dr Tommy
Authors: McLean, S., Persson, A., Norin, T., and Killen, S. S.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Biodiversity, One Health & Veterinary Medicine
Journal Name:Current Biology
Publisher:Elsevier (Cell Press)
ISSN (Online):1879-0445
Published Online:22 March 2018
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2018 Elsevier Ltd.
First Published:First published in Current Biology 28(7): 1144-1149.e4
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the publisher copyright policy

University Staff: Request a correction | Enlighten Editors: Update this record

Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
594261The Influence of Individual Physiology on Group Behaviour in Fish SchoolsShaun KillenNatural Environment Research Council (NERC)NE/J019100/1RI BIODIVERSITY ANIMAL HEALTH & COMPMED