Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 65, Issue 5, pp 1113–1122 | Cite as

Guppies as heterospecific facilitators: a precursor of exploratory behavior?

  • Douglas F. Fraser
  • Christopher J. Brousseau
  • Kristina L. Cohen
  • Summer A. Morse-Goetz
Original Paper


Behavior can explain population-level processes such as dispersal, yet connecting a specific behavioral phenomenon with a larger ecological pattern is often speculative rather than supported by experimental studies. We investigate how exploratory behavior may develop in the killifish, Rivulus hartii through association with another taxon, the guppy, Poecilia reticulata. We hypothesize that exploratory behavior is enhanced by nearby guppies, which embolden Rivulus to move along the river edge, through zones of high predation risk. We tested individual boldness in the presence of both guppies and conspecifics. We also tested for the effect of prior experience with guppies, comparing boldness in Rivulus from locations in which it was either allopatric to or sympatric with guppies. Guppies increased boldness in Rivulus, equivalent to the effect of conspecifics, and prior experience with guppies also increased boldness over that of inexperienced Rivulus. Sympatric Rivulus were shy compared with the allopatric ones when each was tested alone, but this relationship reversed when guppies were present, showing that boldness is a plastic trait that can be influenced by the population of origin. An experimental field-stream test showed that guppies increased movement of Rivulus under predation threat, supporting links in a conceptual framework that connects a behavioral phenomenon, exploratory boldness, with a larger ecological pattern, selection of favorable habitats that, in turn, can lead to increased reproduction and fitness relative to non-dispersers.


Bold behavior Exploratory behavior Dispersal Facilitation Mixed species groups Poecilia reticulata Rivulus hartii 


  1. Alan JR, Pitcher TJ (1986) Species segregation during predator evasion in cyprinid fish shoals. Freshw Biol 16:653–659CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Brown C, Jones F, Braithwaite V (2005) In situ examination of boldness–shyness traits in the tropical Poeciliid, Brachyraphis episcopi. Anim Behav 70:1003–1009CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Clobert J, Le Galliard JF, Cote J, Meylan S, Massot M (2009) Informed dispersal, heterogeneity in animal dispersal syndromes and the dynamics of spatially structured populations. Ecol Lett 12:197–209PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Croft DP, Albanese B, Arrowsmith BJ, Botham M, Webster M, Krause J (2003) Sex-biased movement in the guppy (Poecilia reticulata). Oecologia 137:62–68PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Dingemanse NJ, Wright J, Kazem AJN, Thomas DK, Hickling R, Dawnay N (2007) Behavioural syndromes differ predictably between 12 populations of three-spined stickleback. J Anim Ecol 76:1128–1138PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Dugatkin LA, Godin J-GJ (1992) Predator inspection, shoaling and foraging under predation hazard in the Trinidadian guppy, Poecilia reticulata. Environ Biol Fishes 34:265–276CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Fraser DF, Gilliam JF, Yip-Hoi T (1995) Predation as an agent of population fragmentation in a tropical watershed. Ecology 76:1461–1472CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Fraser DF, Gilliam JF, MacGowan MP, Arcaro CM, Guillozet PH (1999) Habitat quality in a hostile river corridor. Ecology 80:597–607CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Fraser DF, Gilliam JF, Daley MJ, Le AN, Skalski GT (2001) Explaining leptokurtic distributions, intrapopulation variation in boldness and exploration. Am Nat 158:124–135PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Fraser DF, Gilliam JF, Albanese BW, Snider SB (2006) Effects of temporal patterning of predation threat on movement of a stream fish, evaluating an intermediate threat hypothesis. Environ Biol Fishes 76:25–35CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Freeman MC, Grossman GD (1992) A field test for competitive interactions among foraging stream fishes. Copeia 1992:898–902CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Ghalambor CK, McKay JK, Carroll SP, Reznick DN (2007) Adaptive versus non-adaptive phenotypic plasticity and the potential for contemporary adaptation in new environments. Funct Ecol 21:394–407CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Gilliam JF, Fraser DF (2001) Movement in corridors, enhancement by predation threat, disturbance, and habitat structure. Ecology 82:258–273CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Gorman OT (1988) The dynamics of habitat use in a guild of Ozark Minnows. Ecol Monogr 58:1–18CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Griffiths SW, Magurran AE (1997) Familiarity in schooling fish, how long does it take to acquire? Anim Behav 53:945–949CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Magurran AE (2005) The Trinidadian guppy. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  17. Magurran AE, Ramnarine IW (2004) Learned mate recognition and reproductive isolation in guppies. Anim Behav 67:1077–1082CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Matthews WJ (1998) Patterns in freshwater fish ecology. Chapman and Hall, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  19. McLaughlin RL (2001) Behavioural diversification in brook charr, adaptive responses to local conditions. J Anim Ecol 70:325–337CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. McLaughlin RL, Ferguson MM, Noakes DLG (1999) Adaptive peaks and alternative foraging tactics in brook charr, evidence of short-term divergent selection for sitting-and-waiting and actively searching. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 45:386–395CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Pitcher TJ (1986) Functions of shoaling behaviour in teleosts. In: Pitcher TJ (ed) The behavior of teleost fishes. The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, pp 294–337Google Scholar
  22. Robinson BW, Wilson DS (1996) Genetic variation and phenotypic plasticity in a trophically polymorphic population of pumpkinseed sunfish (Lepomis gibbosus). Evol Ecol 10:631–652CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Rodd FH, Reznick DN, Sokolowski MB (1997) Phenotypic plasticity in the life history traits of guppies: responses to social environment. Ecology 78:419–433CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Rodriguez MA (2002) Restricted movement in stream fish, the paradigm is incomplete, not lost. Ecology 83:1–13Google Scholar
  25. Seghers BH (1973) An analysis of geographic variation in the antipredator adaptations of the guppy, Poecilia reticulata. Dissertation, University of British ColumbiaGoogle Scholar
  26. Seghers BH, Magurran AE (1995) Population differences in the schooling behaviour of the Trinidad guppy, Poecilia reticulata—adaptation or constraint. Can J Zool 73:1100–1105CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Sih A, Bell AM, Johnson JC, Ziemba RE (2004) Behavioral syndromes, an integrative overview. Quart Rev Biol 79:241–277PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Walsh MR, Reznick DN (2008) Interactions between the direct and indirect effects of predators determine life history evolution in a killifish. Proc Natl Acad Sci 105:594–599PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Ward AJW, Botham MS, Hoare DJ, James R, Broom M, Godin J-GJ, Krause J (2002) Association patterns and shoal fidelity in the three-spined stickleback. Proc R Soc Lond B 269:2451–2455CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Williams GC (1964) Measurement of consociation among fishes and comments on the evolution of schooling. Pub Mus Mich State U Biol Ser 2:349–384Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Douglas F. Fraser
    • 1
  • Christopher J. Brousseau
    • 1
    • 2
  • Kristina L. Cohen
    • 1
    • 3
  • Summer A. Morse-Goetz
    • 1
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of BiologySiena CollegeLoudonvilleUSA
  2. 2.WalpoleUSA
  3. 3.Biology DepartmentBoston UniversityBostonUSA
  4. 4.LiverpoolUSA

Personalised recommendations