Ontogeny of aggressive behaviour in schools of yellowtail, Seriola quinqueradiata

  • Yoshitaka Sakakura
  • Katsumi Tsukamoto
Part of the Developments in environmental biology of fishes book series (DEBF, volume 19)


We studied ontogenetic changes in social interactions, especially in aggressive behaviour of the migratory marine yellowtail, Seriola quinqueradiata (Carangidae), and compared these to morphological and physiological changes. No agonistic interactions were observed during the larva period until 10 mm in total length (TL), at approximately 20 days after hatching. Typical shivering behaviour with ‘J-posture’ was observed during metamorphosis, when fin rays and calcification of vertebra were completed and there was an increase of tissue thyroid hormone. The onset of aggressive behaviour was just after metamorphosis to the juvenile period, and coincided with a significant increase in tissue cortisol levels. The onset of schooling behaviour was at 12 mm TL, slightly after the onset of aggressive behaviour. From observations of individual aggressive behaviour within juvenile schools, we found three categories of social rank: dominants (10–20%), intermediates (10–20%), and subordinates (60–80%). There was an inverse relationship between social rank and cortisol concentration. Otoliths of dominant fish in 8 experimental groups were labeled and the fish were returned to their groups. Six labeled dominants appeared after 1 day and three after 1 week rearing, respectively, indicating that social rank was maintained for at least 1 week (binomial distribution, p < 0.05). Dominants were larger than subordinates after 1 day rearing, whereas dominants were smaller after 1 week rearing. From long-term rearing experiments using individual otolith marking, larvae that showed the ‘J-posture’ more frequently tended to become dominants after metamorphosis, indicating a positive correlation between the ‘J-posture’ and aggressive behaviour. Synthesizing all results from behavioural experiments, we generated a behavioural model for the triggering mechanism of aggressive behaviour and size selection of school members.

Key words

social rank schooling behaviour cannibalism otolith 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yoshitaka Sakakura
    • 1
  • Katsumi Tsukamoto
    • 1
  1. 1.Division of Fisheries Ecology, Ocean Research InstituteThe University of TokyoNakano, Tokyo 164Japan

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