Social experience in early ontogeny has lasting effects on social skills in cooperatively breeding cichlids

Arnold, C. & Taborsky, B. (2010). Social experience in early ontogeny has lasting effects on social skills in cooperatively breeding cichlids. Animal Behaviour 79 (3) 621-630. 10.1016/j.anbehav.2009.12.008.

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The early social environment can affect the social behaviour of animals throughout life. We tested whether the presence of adults during early development influences the social behaviour of juveniles later on in the cooperatively breeding cichlid 'Neolamprologus pulcher'. In a split-brood design we raised half of the broods together with parents and with or without brood care helpers, and the other half without adults. During early rearing, fry raised with adults showed more aggressive and submissive behaviour to each other than fish raised with siblings only. After transferring the young to a neutral environment lacking adult conspecifics we tested their social performance in a competitive situation. Either young were assigned the ownership of a shelter or they had no shelter of their own. As shelter owners, fish that had been raised with adults showed more of an energetically cheaper, restrained form of aggression, while as intruders they behaved submissively more often than fish raised without adults. The strength of these treatment effects depended on the opponent's social experience, and contests were terminated earlier only when both opponents had been raised with adults. Our results show that the social-rearing conditions persistently affect the economy and adequacy of individual reactions to social challenges, which is reminiscent of social competence effects known from humans. Remarkably, during the social treatment period brood care involved only protection but no direct interactions between adults and young. We discuss potential mechanisms by which the presence of brood-caring adults may persistently affect social skills in animals.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Aggressive behaviour; Cichlid; Cooperative breeder; Early environment; 'Neolamprologus pulcher'; Ontogeny; Social skill; Submissive behaviour
Research Programs: Evolution and Ecology (EEP)
Bibliographic Reference: Animal Behaviour; 79(3):621-630 (March 2010) (Published online 18 January 2010)
Depositing User: IIASA Import
Date Deposited: 15 Jan 2016 08:44
Last Modified: 27 Aug 2021 17:21

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