Animal Cognition

, Volume 14, Issue 4, pp 607–612 | Cite as

Spatial cognition in zebrafish: the role of strain and rearing environment

  • Rowena Spence
  • Anne E. Magurran
  • Carl Smith
Short Communication


Two strains of zebrafish, WIK and a second-generation wild strain were reared in either a structurally simple or complex environment and compared in their ability to locate a food reward in a five-chambered maze. There was a significant interaction within subjects between rearing environment and trial, indicating that the consistency of learning varied depending on rearing environment, with those reared in a structurally simple environment showing a slower rate of learning. Fish of both strains reared in a structurally complex environment were smaller than those reared in a simple environment. Our study demonstrates, for the first time in zebrafish, that performance in a learning task as an adult is sensitive to rearing conditions during development.


Cognition Danio rerio Development Environmental enrichment Welfare Learning 



We are grateful to Culum Brown and Martin Reichard for their comments on an earlier version of the manuscript and to Robin Wilson for statistical advice.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of BiologyUniversity of St. AndrewsFifeUK

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