Benefits of kin association: related and familiar zebrafish larvae (Danio rerio) show improved growth
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Zebrafish (Danio rerio) larvae prefer the olfactory cues of kin to non-kin. We examined the potential benefits of kin preference by comparing growth rate, shoaling, and aggressive behavior in juvenile zebrafish housed in groups of either familiar kin or unfamiliar non-kin. Over an observation period of 5 days, the animals grew 33% more in kin groups; however, neither shoaling nor the frequency of aggressive interactions was different in groups of related versus unrelated individuals. Shoaling behavior increased with increasing observation time and increasing age, while aggressive behavior remained the same. We conclude that associating with kin probably creates a less stressful environment that allows for higher growth rates, which can lead to higher direct fitness based on increased survival and earlier reproduction. Kin recognition leading to kin-structured groups may therefore be under positive selection.
KeywordsKin recognition Kin selection Danio rerio Shoaling Aggression Growth
The authors would like to thank the animal care staff at the Marine Resources Center for their help in making this experiment possible. We thank J. Atema, T. Bakker and two anonymous reviewers for helpful comments on the manuscript. We carried out all experiments following the national guidelines of the USA. The Marine Biological Laboratory has an Animal Welfare Assurance on file with the Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare (OLAW). Assurance No. A3070-01. The Animal Facility is registered with the USDA Reg. No. 14-R119, I, IACUC No. 06-34.
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