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Individual and species recognition in centrarchid fishes: evidence and hypotheses

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Summary

We conducted laboratory experiments to determine if juveniles of three species of centrarchid fishes displayed abilities for species or individual recognition. In one experiment we reared rock bass (Ambloplites rupestris) in social isolation and in social groups. Both the isolated and group-reared fish spent significantly more time close to conspecifics than to heterospecifics. These results suggest that species recognition in rock bass is controlled by a closed genetic program and that social experience is not necessary. A second set of experiments was conducted to determine if year-old blue-gill (Lepomis macrochirus), pumpkinseed (L. gibbosus), and rock bass juveniles could discriminate between familiar and unfamiliar conspecifics. Bluegill spent significantly more time with familiar conspecifics than with unfamiliar conspecifics, while the other two species displayed no such trend. Bluegill spent significantly more time with familiar conspecifics than did either of the other two species. We postulate that these interspecific differences in recognition abilities may be related to differences in habitat and group parameters among the species.

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Brown, J.A., Colgan, P.W. Individual and species recognition in centrarchid fishes: evidence and hypotheses. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 19, 373–379 (1986). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00295711

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