Brain size predicts behavioural plasticity in guppies (Poecilia reticulata): an experiment

G. Herczeg, Tamás János Urszán, Stephanie Orf, Gergely Nagy, Alexander Kotrschal, Niclas Kolm

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Understanding how animal personality (consistent between-individual behavioural differences) arises has become a central topic in behavioural sciences. This endeavour is complicated by the fact that not only the mean behaviour of individuals (behavioural type) but also the strength of their reaction to environmental change (behavioural plasticity) varies consistently. Personality and cognitive abilities are linked, and we suggest that behavioural plasticity could also be explained by differences in brain size (a proxy for cognitive abilities), since accurate decisions are likely essential to make behavioural plasticity beneficial. We test this idea in guppies (Poecilia reticulata), artificially selected for large and small brain size, which show clear cognitive differences between selection lines. To test whether those lines differed in behavioural plasticity, we reared them in groups in structurally enriched environments and then placed adults individually into empty tanks, where we presented them daily with visual predator cues and monitored their behaviour for 20 days with video-aided motion tracking. We found that individuals differed consistently in activity and risk-taking, as well as in behavioural plasticity. In activity, only the large-brained lines demonstrated habituation (increased activity) to the new environment, whereas in risk-taking, we found sensitization (decreased risk-taking) in both brain size lines. We conclude that brain size, potentially via increasing cognitive abilities, may increase behavioural plasticity, which in turn can improve habituation to novel environments. However, the effects seem to be behaviour-specific. Our results suggest that brain size likely explains some of the variation in behavioural plasticity found at the intraspecific level.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Evolutionary Biology
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2018

Fingerprint

Poecilia reticulata
plasticity
brain
experiment
habituation
risk reduction
testing
predators
environmental change
predator
animals
animal

Keywords

  • behavioural plasticity
  • brain size
  • cognition
  • habituation
  • personality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

Cite this

Brain size predicts behavioural plasticity in guppies (Poecilia reticulata) : an experiment. / Herczeg, G.; Urszán, Tamás János; Orf, Stephanie; Nagy, Gergely; Kotrschal, Alexander; Kolm, Niclas.

In: Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 01.01.2018.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Herczeg, G. ; Urszán, Tamás János ; Orf, Stephanie ; Nagy, Gergely ; Kotrschal, Alexander ; Kolm, Niclas. / Brain size predicts behavioural plasticity in guppies (Poecilia reticulata) : an experiment. In: Journal of Evolutionary Biology. 2018.
@article{badcb2749bdb42f78cfc230b359e81b2,
title = "Brain size predicts behavioural plasticity in guppies (Poecilia reticulata): an experiment",
abstract = "Understanding how animal personality (consistent between-individual behavioural differences) arises has become a central topic in behavioural sciences. This endeavour is complicated by the fact that not only the mean behaviour of individuals (behavioural type) but also the strength of their reaction to environmental change (behavioural plasticity) varies consistently. Personality and cognitive abilities are linked, and we suggest that behavioural plasticity could also be explained by differences in brain size (a proxy for cognitive abilities), since accurate decisions are likely essential to make behavioural plasticity beneficial. We test this idea in guppies (Poecilia reticulata), artificially selected for large and small brain size, which show clear cognitive differences between selection lines. To test whether those lines differed in behavioural plasticity, we reared them in groups in structurally enriched environments and then placed adults individually into empty tanks, where we presented them daily with visual predator cues and monitored their behaviour for 20 days with video-aided motion tracking. We found that individuals differed consistently in activity and risk-taking, as well as in behavioural plasticity. In activity, only the large-brained lines demonstrated habituation (increased activity) to the new environment, whereas in risk-taking, we found sensitization (decreased risk-taking) in both brain size lines. We conclude that brain size, potentially via increasing cognitive abilities, may increase behavioural plasticity, which in turn can improve habituation to novel environments. However, the effects seem to be behaviour-specific. Our results suggest that brain size likely explains some of the variation in behavioural plasticity found at the intraspecific level.",
keywords = "behavioural plasticity, brain size, cognition, habituation, personality",
author = "G. Herczeg and Ursz{\'a}n, {Tam{\'a}s J{\'a}nos} and Stephanie Orf and Gergely Nagy and Alexander Kotrschal and Niclas Kolm",
year = "2018",
month = "1",
day = "1",
doi = "10.1111/jeb.13405",
language = "English",
journal = "Journal of Evolutionary Biology",
issn = "1010-061X",
publisher = "Wiley-Blackwell",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Brain size predicts behavioural plasticity in guppies (Poecilia reticulata)

T2 - an experiment

AU - Herczeg, G.

AU - Urszán, Tamás János

AU - Orf, Stephanie

AU - Nagy, Gergely

AU - Kotrschal, Alexander

AU - Kolm, Niclas

PY - 2018/1/1

Y1 - 2018/1/1

N2 - Understanding how animal personality (consistent between-individual behavioural differences) arises has become a central topic in behavioural sciences. This endeavour is complicated by the fact that not only the mean behaviour of individuals (behavioural type) but also the strength of their reaction to environmental change (behavioural plasticity) varies consistently. Personality and cognitive abilities are linked, and we suggest that behavioural plasticity could also be explained by differences in brain size (a proxy for cognitive abilities), since accurate decisions are likely essential to make behavioural plasticity beneficial. We test this idea in guppies (Poecilia reticulata), artificially selected for large and small brain size, which show clear cognitive differences between selection lines. To test whether those lines differed in behavioural plasticity, we reared them in groups in structurally enriched environments and then placed adults individually into empty tanks, where we presented them daily with visual predator cues and monitored their behaviour for 20 days with video-aided motion tracking. We found that individuals differed consistently in activity and risk-taking, as well as in behavioural plasticity. In activity, only the large-brained lines demonstrated habituation (increased activity) to the new environment, whereas in risk-taking, we found sensitization (decreased risk-taking) in both brain size lines. We conclude that brain size, potentially via increasing cognitive abilities, may increase behavioural plasticity, which in turn can improve habituation to novel environments. However, the effects seem to be behaviour-specific. Our results suggest that brain size likely explains some of the variation in behavioural plasticity found at the intraspecific level.

AB - Understanding how animal personality (consistent between-individual behavioural differences) arises has become a central topic in behavioural sciences. This endeavour is complicated by the fact that not only the mean behaviour of individuals (behavioural type) but also the strength of their reaction to environmental change (behavioural plasticity) varies consistently. Personality and cognitive abilities are linked, and we suggest that behavioural plasticity could also be explained by differences in brain size (a proxy for cognitive abilities), since accurate decisions are likely essential to make behavioural plasticity beneficial. We test this idea in guppies (Poecilia reticulata), artificially selected for large and small brain size, which show clear cognitive differences between selection lines. To test whether those lines differed in behavioural plasticity, we reared them in groups in structurally enriched environments and then placed adults individually into empty tanks, where we presented them daily with visual predator cues and monitored their behaviour for 20 days with video-aided motion tracking. We found that individuals differed consistently in activity and risk-taking, as well as in behavioural plasticity. In activity, only the large-brained lines demonstrated habituation (increased activity) to the new environment, whereas in risk-taking, we found sensitization (decreased risk-taking) in both brain size lines. We conclude that brain size, potentially via increasing cognitive abilities, may increase behavioural plasticity, which in turn can improve habituation to novel environments. However, the effects seem to be behaviour-specific. Our results suggest that brain size likely explains some of the variation in behavioural plasticity found at the intraspecific level.

KW - behavioural plasticity

KW - brain size

KW - cognition

KW - habituation

KW - personality

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=85058936105&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=85058936105&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1111/jeb.13405

DO - 10.1111/jeb.13405

M3 - Article

AN - SCOPUS:85058936105

JO - Journal of Evolutionary Biology

JF - Journal of Evolutionary Biology

SN - 1010-061X

ER -