This month Lucy and Shaun went to China to work with Shi-Jian Fu and colleagues at Chongqing Normal University. The aim was to examine how metabolism and feeding interact to affect fish social behaviour. As always it was an amazingly fun and productive trip. We are already looking forward to our return!
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Many animal species live in groups to derive benefits for foraging and predator avoidance. Another potential benefit is a reduction in routine energy expenditure for each individual within the group as they share duties for anti-predator vigilance. There may also be a ‘calming effect’, whereby individuals in group experience decreased stress and energy expenditure compared to isolated individuals. In a new study on the cover of this month’s Journal of Experimental Biology, Shaun Killen, Lauren Nadler, and colleagues at James Cooke University in Australia examined these issues by measuring metabolic and growth rates in individual damselfish (Chromis viridis) with and without visual and olfactory cues from groups of other fish of the same species. They found that individuals in shoals reduced their metabolic rate by 26% from their metabolic rate when alone. As increased extreme weather events may lead to forced social isolation in gregarious fishes, this could have repercussions for individual energy budgets. Photo credit: Eva McClure. Read more in the open access article here!:
Nadler, L.E., Killen, S.S., McClure, E.C., Munday, P.L., McCormick, M.I. 2016. Shoaling reduces metabolic rate in a gregarious coral reef fish species. Journal of Experimental Biology. 219: 2802-2805. doi: 10.1242/jeb.139493
I’m a bit late with this post but a couple weeks ago I gave a public lecture at the British Science Festival in Bradford. The talk was on the surprising similarities and differences in the social behaviours of animals and humans. I’d never been to the BSF before but it was an amazing event with an incredible line-up of speakers. I’ll definitely be aiming to speak again there next year (when the BSF will be held in Swansea) and will also be planning to stay to attend more of the talks.
My talk went well with around 120 people in attendance. Everyone was extremely interactive, asking lots of questions throughout the talk and offering a lot of engaging discussion. So much so that I didn’t manage to get through my entire talk within the one hour time slot! One of my favourite things about these sorts of events is seeing this sort of genuine interest in science among members of the public. As a scientist it definitely gives you renewed enthusiasm for your own work every time you run one of these events. The interesting discussions come from a different perspective than you get when conversing with other scientists and its very refreshing. I’m already looking forward to next year!