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Fish Cognition and Behavior

Culum Brown (Editor), Kevin Laland (Editor), Jens Krause (Editor)
ISBN: 978-0-470-99604-1
352 pages
April 2008, Wiley-Blackwell
Fish Cognition and Behavior (0470996048) cover image
The study of animal cognition has been largely confined to birds and mammals; a historical bias which has led to the belief that learning plays little or no part in the development of behaviour in fishes and reptiles. Research in recent decades has begun to redress this misconception and it is now recognised that fishes exhibit a rich array of sophisticated behaviour with impressive learning capabilities entirely comparable with those of mammals and other terrestrial animals.


In this fascinating book an international team of experts have been brought together to explore all major areas of fish learning, including:



  • foraging skills
  • Predator recognition
  • Social organisation and learning
  • Welfare and pain


Fish Cognition and Behavior is an important contribution to all fish biologists and ethologists and contains much information of commercial importance for fisheries managers and aquaculture personnel. Libraries in universities and research establishments will find it an important addition to their shelves.

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Foreword by Tony Pitcher.

1. Fish cognition and behaviour (Culum Brown, Kevin Laland & Jens Krause).

1.2 Introduction.

1.3 Acknowledgements.

1.4 References.

2. Learning of foraging skills by fish (Kevin Warburton).

2.1 Introduction.

2.2 Some factors affecting the learning process.

2.2.1 Reinforcement.

2.2.1 Drive.

2.2.3 Stimulus attractiveness.

2.2.4 Exploration and sampling.

2.2.5 Attention and simple association.

2.2.6 Cognition.

2.3 Patch use and probability matching.

2.4 Performance.

2.5 Tracking environmental variation.

2.6 Competition.

2.7 Learning and fish feeding: Some applications.

2.8 Conclusions.

2.9 Acknowledgments.

2.10 References.

3. Learned defences and counter defences in predator-prey interactions (Anne Magurran & Jennifer Kelly).

3.1 Introduction.

3.2 The predator prey sequence.

3.2.1 Avoidance.

3.2.1.1 Avoiding dangerous habitats.

3.2.1.2 Changing activity patterns.

3.2.2 Detection.

3.2.2.1 Crypsis.

3.2.2.2 Sensory perception.

3.2.3 Recognition.

3.2.3.1 Associative learning.

3.2.3.2 Learning specificity.

3.2.3.3 Search images.

3.2.3.4 Aposematism and mimicry.

3.2.4 Approach.

3.2.4.1 Pursuit deterrence.

3.2.4.2 Gaining information about the predator.

3.2.4.3 Social learning.

3.2.4.4 Habituation.

3.2.5 Evasion.

3.2.5.1 Reactive distance and escape speed.

3.2.5.2 Survival benefits.

3.3 Summary and discussion.

3.4 Acknowledgements.

3.5 References.

4. Learning about Danger: chemical alarm cues and the assessment of predation risk by fishes (Grant Brown & Douglas P Chivers).

4.1 Introduction.

4.2 Chemical alarm cues and flexible responses.

4.3 Temporal variability and the intensity of antipredator behaviour.

4.4 Predator diet cues and risk assessment during predator inspection.

4.5 Acquired predator recognition.

4.6 Constraints on learning.

4.7 Heterospecific responses.

4.8 Concluding Remarks.

4.9 Acknowledgements.

4.10 References.

5. Learning & Mate Choice (Klaudia Witte).

5.1 Introduction.

5.2 Sexual imprinting.

5.2.1 Sexual imprinting in fishes.

5.2.2 Does sexual imprinting promote sympatric speciation in fish?

5.3 Learning after reaching maturity.

5.3.1 Learning when living in sympatry or allopatry.

5.3.2 Learned recognition of colour morphs in mate choice.

5.4 Eavesdropping.

5.4.1 Eavesdropping and mate choice.

5.4.2 The audience effect.

5.4.3 Benefits of eavesdropping.

5.5 Mate choice copying.

5.5.1 Mate-choice copying – first experimental evidence and consequence.

5.5.2 Mate-choice copying - Evidence from the wild.

5.5.3 Copying mate rejection.

5.5.4 The disruption hypothesis – an alternative explanation to mate-choice copying?.

5.6 Social mate preferences overriding genetic preferences.

5.6.1 Indication from guppies.

5.6.2 Indications from sailfin mollies.

5.7 Cultural evolution through mate choice copying.

5.8 Does mate-choice copying support the evolution of a novel male trait?.

5.8.1 Female preference for swords.

5.8.2 Theoretical approaches.

5.8.3 Experimental approaches.

5.9 Is mate-choice copying an adaptive mate-choice strategy?.

5.9.1 Benefits of mate-choice copying.

5.9.2 Costs of mate-choice copying.

5.10 Outlook.

5.11 Concluding remarks.

5.12 Acknowledgements.

5.13 References.

6. Modulating aggression through experience (Yuying Hsu, Ryan L. Early and Larry L. Wolf).

6.1 Introduction.

6.2. Winner and loser effects in fish.

6.2.1 Methodological concerns in detecting experience effects.

6.2.2 Asymmetrical winner and loser effects.

6.2.3 Interspecific variation in experience effects.

6.2.4 The importance of experience effects in fighting decisions and outcomes.

6.2.5 Experience and dominance hierarchies.

6.3 Mechanisms of experience effects.

6.3.1 Learning.

6.3.2 Neuroendocrine correlates of fighting.

6.4 Other types of experience.

6.4.1 Individual recognition.

6.4.2 Eavesdropping.

6.4.3 Transitive inference.

6.5 Integrating experience information.

6.6 Conclusions and future directions.

6.7 Acknowledgments.

6.8 References.

7. The role of learning in fish orientation (Lucy Odling-Smee, Steve Simpson & Victoria Braithwaite).

7.1 Introduction.

7.2 Why keep track of location?.

7.3 The use of learning and memory in orientation.

7.4 Learning about landmarks.

7.5 Compass orientation.

7.6 Water movements.

7.7 Inertial guidance and internal clocks.

7.8 Social cues.

7.9 How flexible is orientation behaviour?.

7.9.1 When to learn.

7.9.2 What to learn.

7.9.3 Spatial learning capacity.

7.10 Salmon homing – a case study.

7.11 Conclusion.

7.12 Acknowledgments.

7.13 References.

8. Learned recognition of conspecifics (Sian Griffiths & Ashley Ward).

8.1 Introduction.

8.2 Recognition of familiars and condition-dependency.

8.2.1 Laboratory studies of familiarity.

8.2.2 Mechanisms of familiarity recognition.

8.2.3 Functions of associating with familiar fish.

8.2.4 Familiarity in free-ranging fishes.

8.2.5 Determinants of familiarity.

8.3 Familiarity or Kin Recognition?.

8.3.1 Kin Recognition Theory.

8.3.2 Evidence for kin recognition from laboratory studies.

8.3.3 Advantages of kin recognition.

8.3.4 Kin association in the wild.

8.3.5 Explaining the discrepancies between laboratory and field.

8.3.6 Kin avoidance.

8.4 Conclusion.

8.5 Acknowledgements.

8.6 References.

9. Social organisation and information transfer in schooling fish (Iain Couzin, Richard James, Darren Croft & Jens Krause).

9.1 Introduction.

9.2 Integrated collective motion.

9.3 Collective motion in the absence of external stimuli.

9.4 Response to internal state and external stimuli: information processing within schools.

9.4.1 Collective response to predators.

9.4.2 Mechanisms and feedbacks in information transfer.

9.4.3 Information transfer during group foraging and migration.

9.5 Informational status, leadership and collective decision-making in fish schools.

9.6 The structure of fish schools and populations.

9.7 Social networks and individual identities.

9.8 Community Structure in Social Networks.

9.9 Conclusions and future directions.

9.10 Acknowledgements.

9.11 References.

10. Social learning in fishes. (Culum Brown & Kevin Laland).

10.1 Introduction.

10.2 Anti-predator behaviour.

10.3 Migration and orientation.

10.4 Foraging.

10.5 Mate choice.

10.6 Aggression.

10.7 Tradeoffs in reliance on social and asocial sources of information among fishes.

10.8 Concluding remarks.

10.9 Acknowledgements.

10.10 References.

11. Cooperation and cognition in fishes. (Michael Alfieri & Lee Alan Dugatkin).

11.1 Introduction.

11.2 Why study cooperation in fishes?.

11.3 Cooperation and its categories.

11.3.1 Category 1-Kin Selection.

11.3.1.1 Cognition and kin selection.

11.3.1.2 Example of kin selected cooperation: Cooperative breeding.

11.3.1.3 Example of kin selected cooperation: Conditional territory defence.

11.3.2 Category 2-Reciprocity.

11.3.2.1 Cognition and reciprocity.

11.3.2.2 Example of reciprocity: Egg trading.

11.3.2.3 Example of reciprocity: Predator inspection.

11.3.2.4 Example of reciprocity: Interspecific cleaning behaviour.

11.3.3 Category 3-By-product mutualism.

11.3.3.1 Cognition and by-product mutualism.

11.3.3.2 Example of by-product mutualism: Cooperative foraging.

11.3.4 Category 4-Trait group Selection.

11.3.4.1 Cognition and trait-group selection.

11.3.4.2 Example of trait-group selected cooperation: Predator inspection.

11.5 Acknowledgements.

11.6 References.

12. Machiavallian intelligence in fishes. (Redouan Bshary).

12.1 Introduction.

12.2 Cognitive abilities of fishes that form the basis for Machiavellian intelligence.

12.2.1 Individual recognition.

12.2.2 Information gathering about relationships between other group members.

12.2.3 Co-operation and cheating.

12.2.4 Group living cichlids.

12.2.5 Machiavellian intelligence in cleaning mutualism.

12.2.5.1 Categorisation and individual recognition of clients.

12.2.5.2 Building up relationships between cleaners and resident clients.

12.2.5.3 The cleaners’ use of tactile stimulation to manipulate client decisions and to reconcile after conflicts.

12.2.5.4 Indirect reciprocity based on image scoring and tactical deception.

12.2.5.5What cognitive abilities might cleaners have to deal with their clients?.

12.3 Discussion.

12.3.1 Future avenues I: how Machiavellian is fish behaviour.

12.3.2 Future avenues II: relating Machiavellian type behaviour to brain size evolution.

12.3.3 Extending the Machiavellian intelligence hypothesis to general social intelligence.

12.4 Acknowledgements.

12.5 References.

13. Neural mechanisms of learning in teleost fish.(Fernando Rodríguez, Cristina Broglio, Emilio Durán, Antonia Gómez, and Cosme Salas).

13.1 Introduction.

13.2 Pioneering studies.

13.3 Classical conditioning.

13.3.1 Classical conditioning and teleost fish cerebellum.

13.3.2 Trace classical conditioning and teleost telencephalic pallium.

13.4 Emotional learning.

13.4.1 Medial pallium and avoidance conditioning.

13.4.2 Involvement of goldfish lateral pallium in trace avoidance conditioning.

13.4.3 Teleost cerebelum and emotional conditioning.

13.5 Spatial Cognition.

13.4.1 Cognitive mapping in teleost fish.

13.4.2 Teleost fish telencephalon and spatial cognition.

13.4.3 Spatial learning and telencephalic pallium in actinopterygian fish.

13.4.4 Neural mechanisms for egocentric orientation.

13.6 Concluding remarks.

13.7 Acknowledgements.

13.8 References.

14. The role of fish learning skills in fisheries and aquaculture. (Anders Fernö, Geir Huse, Per J. Jakobsen & Tore S. Kristiansen).

14.1 Introduction.

14.2 Fisheries.

14.2.1 Spatial Dynamics.

14.2.1.1 Learning skills and movement.

14.2.1.2 Social learning of migration pattern.

14.2.2 Implications of learning for fisheries management.

14.3 Fish Capture.

14.3.1 Natural variations in spatial distribution and behaviour.

14.3.2 Avoidance and attraction before fishing.

14.3.3 Before physical contact with the gear.

14.3.4 After physical contact with the gear.

14.3.5 Behaviour after escaping the gear and long-term consequences.

14.4 Aquaculture.

14.4.1 Ontogeny.

14.4.2 Habituation and conditioning.

14.4.3 Individual decisions and collective behaviour.

14.5 Stock enhancement and sea ranching.

14.6 Concluding remarks.

14.7 Acknowledgements.

14.8 References.

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Culum Brown, University of Edinburgh, Institute of Evolutionary Biology, School of Biological Science, UK

Kevin Laland, University of St Andrew's, Centre for Social Learning and Cognitive Evolution, UK

Jens Krause, University of Leeds, School of Biology, UK

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  • Written by animal behavior experts from around the world
  • Editors are well known and respected in these subject areas
  • An understanding of fish learning is vital for personnel running commercially successful fish farms
  • Important information for fisheries managers globally
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"Fish Cognition and Behavior is an essential read for anyone interested in fish welfare, psychology, sensory biology, neurobiology, conservation, and the application of pure research." (Quarterly Review of Biology, December 2008)
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