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Naturwissenschaften. 2003 Aug;90(8):374-7. Epub 2003 Jul 22.

Inter and intra-population variation in shoaling and boldness in the zebrafish (Danio rerio).

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School of Biology, University of Leeds, Leeds, LS2 9JT, UK.


Population differences in anti-predator behaviour have been demonstrated in several species, although less is known about the genetic basis of these traits. To determine the extent of genetic differences in boldness (defined as exploration of a novel object) and shoaling within and between zebrafish (Danio rerio) populations, and to examine the genetic basis of shoaling behaviour in general, we carried out a study that involved laboratory-raised fish derived from four wild-caught populations. Controlling for differences in rearing environment, significant inter-population differences were found in boldness but not shoaling. A larger shoaling experiment was also performed using one of the populations as the basis of a North Carolina type II breeding design (174 fish in total) to estimate heritability of shoaling tendency. A narrow-sense heritability estimate of 0.40 was obtained, with no apparent dominance effects.

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