Quantification acuity in spontaneous shoaling decisions of three-spined sticklebacks

Mehlis, Marion; Thünken, Timo; Bakker, Theo C. M.; Frommen, Joachim Gerhard (2015). Quantification acuity in spontaneous shoaling decisions of three-spined sticklebacks. Animal Cognition, 18(5), pp. 1125-1131. Springer 10.1007/s10071-015-0884-y

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The ability to discriminate between different quantities is widespread throughout the animal kingdom, and the underlying mechanisms of quantity discrimination are currently intensely discussed. In contrast, questions elucidating the limits of quantity estimation received rather little attention so far. Here, we examined fine-tuned quantity estimation in the three-spined stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus) in a natural context, i.e. during shoaling decisions. Wild-caught focal fish were given the spontaneous choice between two shoals which differed in group size by 1 fish (0 vs. 1, 1 vs. 2, 2 vs. 3, 3 vs. 4, 4 vs. 5, 5 vs. 6 and 6 vs. 7), based on visual assessment. The results show that sticklebacks generally prefer to shoal with the larger group. They discriminated numerical contrasts up to 6 versus 7, equalling a numerical ratio of 0.86. Preference patterns followed Weber’s law, i.e. decreased with increasing numerical ratio. This pattern was found across all numerical conditions as well as within the small number range (ranging from 1 vs. 2 to 3 vs. 4). The results suggest that wild-caught three-spined sticklebacks are spontaneously able (i.e. without prior learning) to detect subtle differences in shoal sizes. Further, they confirm findings of previous studies highlighting the contribution of the analogue magnitude system to quantity estimation in fishes.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Ecology and Evolution (IEE) > Behavioural Ecology

UniBE Contributor:

Thünken, Timo and Frommen, Joachim Gerhard

Subjects:

500 Science > 590 Animals (Zoology)

ISSN:

1435-9448

Publisher:

Springer

Language:

English

Submitter:

Karin Schneeberger

Date Deposited:

27 Sep 2016 11:45

Last Modified:

14 May 2020 09:00

Publisher DOI:

10.1007/s10071-015-0884-y

BORIS DOI:

10.7892/boris.88746

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/88746

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