Trinidadian guppies have individual personalities, new research


This 2014 video says about itself:

Sustainable Innovation Initiatives (SII) creates bridges between research, business, industry, tourism and educators to make ecological sustainability a priority for societies in tropical forest ecosystems. Our upcoming documentary series helps us accomplish this goal by reaching many people through video.

“Home of the Guppy” is our first episode. It highlights unique features of research in the Northern Range of Trinidad and grassroots efforts in habitats critical to this watershed and communities that use it.

Home of the Guppy Summary: Streams in Trinidad’s Northern Mountain range have been epicenters for breakthroughs in evolutionary theory over the last five decades.

A unique combination of isolation, species-diversity and system-replication has created a “natural laboratory” like no other in the world. These unique conditions have allowed scientists to examine every guppy in multiple wild populations for as many as 15 generations. Guppy studies in Trinidad have produced one of the most detailed multi-generation data collections ever compiled in a wild vertebrate. Results from these studies are reshaping longstanding views of evolutionary theory.

From the University of Exeter in England:

Fish have surprisingly complex personalities

Tiny fish called Trinidadian guppies have individual ‘personalities,’ new research shows

September 25, 2017

Scientists from the University of Exeter studied how guppies behaved in various situations, and found complex differences between individuals.

The researchers tested whether differences could be measured on a “simple spectrum” of how risk-averse or risk-prone guppies were. But they found variations between individuals were too complicated to be described in this way.

“The idea of a simple spectrum is often put forward to explain the behaviour of individuals in species such as the Trinidadian guppy,” said Dr Tom Houslay, of the Centre for Ecology and Conservation (CEC) on the University of Exeter’s Penryn Campus in Cornwall.

“But our research shows that the reality is much more complex. “For example, when placed into an unfamiliar environment, we found guppies have various strategies for coping with this stressful situation — many attempt to hide, others try to escape, some explore cautiously, and so on.

“The differences between them were consistent over time and in different situations. So, while the behaviour of all the guppies changed depending on the situation — for example, all becoming more cautious in more stressful situations — the relative differences between individuals remained intact.”

The study, published in the journal Functional Ecology, examined the “coping styles” of guppies in conditions designed to cause varying levels of stress.

Mild stress was caused by transferring fish individually to an unfamiliar tank, and higher levels of stress were caused by adding models of predatory birds or fish.

The presence of predators had an effect on “average” behaviour — making all of the guppies more cautious overall — but individuals still retained their distinct personalities.

Professor Alastair Wilson, also from the CEC at the University of Exeter, added: “We are interested in why these various personalities exist, and the next phase of our research will look at the genetics underlying personality and associated traits.

“We want to know how personality relates to other facets of life, and to what extent this is driven by genetic — rather than environmental — influences.

“The goal is really gaining insight into evolutionary processes, how different behavioural strategies might persist as species evolve.”

The paper is entitled: “Testing the stability of behavioural coping style across stress contexts in the Trinidadian guppy.”

When evolving in environments where a lack of predators makes food scarcity the main survival challenge, guppy mothers gestate their young longer so that they are born more ready to compete for their meals: here.

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One thought on “Trinidadian guppies have individual personalities, new research

  1. Pingback: Brazilian beetles threatened by climate change | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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