Many animals exhibit behavioral plasticity as they move between habitats seasonally, reside in fluctuating environments, or respond to human-induced environmental change. We know that physical environment during early development can have a lasting impact on behavior, and on the neural mechanisms that shape behavior. In adults, social context can have similar persistent effects on behavior and the brain. Here, we asked whether physical context impacts adult social behavior in a novel environment. We placed groups of adult zebrafish (Danio rerio) in two different physical contexts. After two weeks, we measured group behavior in a novel context, and found that zebrafish with recent experience in a more-complex physical environment charged each other more often and tended to form tighter shoals than did fish that had been housed in less-complex environments. These differences were present regardless of the novel context in which we assayed behavior, and were not easily explained by differences in activity level. Our results demonstrate the impact of recent experiences on adult behavior, and highlight the importance of physical as well as social history in predicting animal behavior in novel situations.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)