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January 3 - Febuary 28, 2021

Meeting Abstract

P37-1  Sat Jan 2  Is a social group the sum of its parts? The relationship between group structure and individual phenotype in a highly social fish McCabe, EA*; Kwun, C; Harmon, IP; Cantelon, CL; Solomon-Lane, TK; Scripps College; Claremont McKenna College; Scripps College; Scripps College; Pitzer, Scripps, Claremont McKenna Colleges

There is a complex relationship between the social and spatial dynamics of a group and the behavioral phenotype of group members. We studied juvenile Astatotilapia burtoni, a highly social African cichlid fish, to test how individual behavior and group structure are related. We formed groups of five fish and recorded activity for 3 weeks. We also manipulated the presence/size of a clay territory structure to influence how individuals behave or situate in the tank. Tanks had a large, small, or no clay structure for one week, and presentation order was balanced across tanks. The position of each fish in the tank was analyzed on the 8th day of each condition. Afterwards, individual behavior was tested in four sequential assays: open field exploration, social cue investigation, dominance behavior, and subordinate behavior. We found significant variation in fish location in the tank, as well as and distance from each other. The presence/size of the clay structures also significantly affected fish position. This demonstrates that individuals use space differently, depending on the social group and physical environment. Next, we tested the hypothesis that group differences can be attributed to the behavioral phenotypes of group members. For example, we test whether aggressive individuals (in the dominance behavior test) situate farther from other fish and disproportionately influence group spatial distribution. Ultimately, by focusing on variation across individuals, time, and context, we can better understand the dynamic interplay between individual behavior and social group structure, as well as the evolution and regulation of sociality.