Habitat-dependent and -independent plastic responses to social environment in the nine-spined stickleback (Pungitius pungitius) brain

Abigél Gonda, Gábor Herczeg, Juha Merilä

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

77 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The influence of environmental complexity on brain development has been demonstrated in a number of taxa, but the potential influence of social environment on neural architecture remains largely unexplored.We investigated experimentally the influence of social environment on the development of different brain parts in geographically and genetically isolated and ecologically divergent populations of nine-spined sticklebacks (Pungitius pungitius). Fish from two marine and two pond populations were reared in the laboratory from eggs to adulthood either individually or in groups. Group-reared pond fish developed relatively smaller brains than those reared individually, but no such difference was found in marine fish. Group-reared fish from both pond and marine populations developed larger tecta optica and smaller bulbi olfactorii than individually reared fish. The fact that the social environment effect on brain size differed between marine and pond origin fish is in agreement with the previous research, showing that pond fish pay a high developmental cost from grouping while marine fish do not. Our results demonstrate that social environment has strong effects on the development of the stickleback brain, and on the brain's sensory neural centres in particular. The potential adaptive significance of the observed brain-size plasticity is discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2085-2092
Number of pages8
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Volume276
Issue number1664
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 7 2009

Fingerprint

Pungitius pungitius
Smegmamorpha
social environment
Social Environment
Gasterosteidae
Plastics
Ecosystem
brain
Brain
Fishes
Fish
plastics
plastic
habitat
fish
habitats
pond
Ponds
Fish ponds
fish ponds

Keywords

  • Brain architecture
  • Brain size
  • Group living
  • Nine-spined stickleback
  • Phenotypic plasticity
  • Pungitius

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Medicine(all)

Cite this

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abstract = "The influence of environmental complexity on brain development has been demonstrated in a number of taxa, but the potential influence of social environment on neural architecture remains largely unexplored.We investigated experimentally the influence of social environment on the development of different brain parts in geographically and genetically isolated and ecologically divergent populations of nine-spined sticklebacks (Pungitius pungitius). Fish from two marine and two pond populations were reared in the laboratory from eggs to adulthood either individually or in groups. Group-reared pond fish developed relatively smaller brains than those reared individually, but no such difference was found in marine fish. Group-reared fish from both pond and marine populations developed larger tecta optica and smaller bulbi olfactorii than individually reared fish. The fact that the social environment effect on brain size differed between marine and pond origin fish is in agreement with the previous research, showing that pond fish pay a high developmental cost from grouping while marine fish do not. Our results demonstrate that social environment has strong effects on the development of the stickleback brain, and on the brain's sensory neural centres in particular. The potential adaptive significance of the observed brain-size plasticity is discussed.",
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