Role of water flow regime in the swimming behaviour and escape performance of a schooling fish

Nadler, L. E., Killen, S. S. , Domenici, P. and McCormick, M. I. (2018) Role of water flow regime in the swimming behaviour and escape performance of a schooling fish. Biology Open, 7(10), bio031997. (doi: 10.1242/bio.031997) (PMID:30237289) (PMCID:PMC6215405)

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Animals are exposed to variable and rapidly changing environmental flow conditions, such as wind in terrestrial habitats and currents in aquatic systems. For fishes, previous work suggests that individuals exhibit flow-induced changes in aerobic swimming performance. Yet, no one has examined whether similar plasticity is found in fast-start escape responses, which are modulated by anaerobic swimming performance, sensory stimuli and neural control. In this study, we used fish from wild schools of the tropical damselfish Chromis viridis from shallow reefs surrounding Lizard Island in the Great Barrier Reef, Australia. The flow regime at each site was measured to ascertain differences in mean water flow speed and its temporal variability. Swimming and escape behaviour in fish schools were video-recorded in a laminar-flow swim tunnel. Though each school's swimming behaviour (i.e. alignment and cohesion) was not associated with local flow conditions, traits linked with fast-start performance (particularly turning rate and the distance travelled with the response) were significantly greater in individuals from high-flow habitats. This stronger performance may occur due to a number of mechanisms, such as an in situ training effect or greater selection pressure for faster performance phenotypes in areas with high flow speed.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Killen, Professor Shaun
Authors: Nadler, L. E., Killen, S. S., Domenici, P., and McCormick, M. I.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Biodiversity, One Health & Veterinary Medicine
Journal Name:Biology Open
Publisher:Company of Biologists
ISSN (Online):2046-6390
Published Online:20 September 2018
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2018 The Company of Biologists Ltd
First Published:First published in Biology Open 7(10): bio031997
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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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