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R Soc Open Sci. 2015 Aug 26;2(8):150220. doi: 10.1098/rsos.150220. eCollection 2015 Aug.

Social dominance modulates eavesdropping in zebrafish.

Author information

1
Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência , Rua da Quinta Grande 6, Oeiras 2780-156, Portugal ; ISPA-Instituto Universitário , Rua Jardim do Tabaco 34, Lisboa 1149-041, Portugal ; Champalimaud Neuroscience Programme , Avenida de Brasilia , Lisboa 1400-038, Portugal.
2
Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência , Rua da Quinta Grande 6, Oeiras 2780-156, Portugal ; ISPA-Instituto Universitário , Rua Jardim do Tabaco 34, Lisboa 1149-041, Portugal.

Abstract

Group living animals may eavesdrop on signalling interactions between conspecifics and integrate it with their own past social experience in order to optimize the use of relevant information from others. However, little is known about this interplay between public (eavesdropped) and private social information. To investigate it, we first manipulated the dominance status of bystander zebrafish. Next, we either allowed or prevented bystanders from observing a fight. Finally, we assessed their behaviour towards the winners and losers of the interaction, using a custom-made video-tracking system and directional analysis. We found that only dominant bystanders who had seen the fight revealed a significant increase in directional focus (a measure of attention) towards the losers of the fights. Furthermore, our results indicate that information about the fighters' acquired status was collected from the signalling interaction itself and not from post-interaction status cues, which implies the existence of individual recognition in zebrafish. Thus, we show for the first time that zebrafish, a highly social model organism, eavesdrop on conspecific agonistic interactions and that this process is modulated by the eavesdroppers' dominance status. We suggest that this type of integration of public and private information may be ubiquitous in social learning processes.

KEYWORDS:

attention; dominance; individual recognition; social eavesdropping; social learning; zebrafish

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