Olfactory self-recognition in a cichlid fish
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- Thünken, T., Waltschyk, N., Bakker, T.C.M. et al. Anim Cogn (2009) 12: 717. doi:10.1007/s10071-009-0231-2
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Animal self-cognizance might be of importance in different contexts like territoriality, self-referent mate-choice or kin recognition. We investigated whether the cichlid fish Pelvicachromis taeniatus is able to recognize own olfactory cues. P. taeniatus is a cave breeding fish with pronounced brood care and social behavior. In the experiments we gave male cave owners the choice between two caves in which we introduced scented water. In a first experiment males preferred caves with their own odor over caves with the odor of an unfamiliar, unrelated male. To examine whether self-recognition is based rather on individual or on family cues we conducted two further experiments in which males could choose between their own odor and the odor of a familiar brother and between the odor of a familiar brother and an unfamiliar, unrelated male, respectively. Males preferred their own odor over that of a familiar brother suggesting individual self-referencing. Interestingly, males (at least outbred ones) preferred the odor of an unfamiliar, unrelated male over that of a familiar brother, maybe to avoid competition with kin. We discuss the results in the context of animal self-cognizance. All experiments were conducted with in- and outbred fish. Inbreeding did not negatively affect self-recognition.