Repeatability of lateralisation in mosquitofish Gambusia holbrooki despite evidence for turn alternation in detour tests




Vinogradov, Ivan
Jennions, MIchael D
Neeman, Teresa
Fox, Rebecca

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Akin to handedness in humans, some animals show a preference for moving to the left or right. This is often attributed to lateralised cognitive functions and eye dominance, which, in turn, influences their behaviour. In fishes, behavioural lateralisation has been tested using detour mazes for over 20 years. Studies report that certain individuals are more likely to approach predators or potential mates from one direction. These findings imply that the lateralisation behaviour of individuals is repeatable, but this is rarely confirmed through multiple testing of each individual over time. Here we quantify the repeatability of turning behaviour by female mosquitofish (Gambusia holbrooki) in a double sided T-maze. Each female was tested three times in each of six treatments: when approaching other females, males, or an empty space; and when able to swim freely or when forced to choose by being herded from behind with a net. Although there was no turning bias based on the mean population response, we detected significant repeatability of lateralisation in five of the six treatments (R=0.251–0.625). This is noteworthy as we also found that individuals tended to alternate between left and right turns, meaning that they tend to move back and forth along one wall of the double-sided T-maze. Furthermore, we found evidence for this wall following when re-analysing data from a previous study. We discuss potential explanations for this phenomenon, and its implications for study design.



Behavioural laterality, Cerebral lateralisation, Cognition, Poeciliidae, T-maze test



Animal Cognition


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