Marine & Environmental Sciences Faculty Datasets

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R code

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Social behaviour, familiarity, Mauthner cells, predator avoidance, school structural integrity


Using social groups (i.e. schools) of the tropical damselfish Chromis viridis, we tested how familiarity through repeated social interactions influences fast-start responses, the primary defensive behaviour in a range of taxa, including fish, sharks, and larval amphibians. We focused on reactivity through response latency and kinematic performance (i.e. agility and propulsion) following a simulated predator attack, while distinguishing between first and subsequent responders (direct response to stimulation versus response triggered by integrated direct and social stimulation, respectively). In familiar schools, first and subsequent responders exhibited shorter latency than unfamiliar individuals, demonstrating that familiarity increases reactivity to direct and, potentially, social stimulation. Further, familiarity modulated kinematic performance in subsequent responders, demonstrated by increased agility and propulsion. These findings demonstrate that the benefits of social recognition and memory may enhance individual fitness through greater survival of predator attacks.

Publication Title

Social familiarity improves fast-start escape performance in schooling fish