Fish behaviour changes in front of onlookers

July 14th, 2011 - 2:15 pm ICT by IANS  

Sydney, July 14 (IANS) A close study of fish has shown that their behaviour with other fish gets influenced in the presence of onlookers or audience.

Scientists from the universities of Queensland, Cambridge and Neuchatel have found that fish that remove parasites from larger ‘client’ fish are less likely to bite their client if they are being watched by other fish.

These fish sometimes get greedy and bite clients instead of parasites, abruptly driving the annoyed larger fish away, the journal Current Biology reports.

The study showed that other large reef fish that observe this behaviour avoid the fish with a reputation for biting, according to a Queensland statement.

Study co-author Lexa Grutter from University of Queensland said the research has demonstrated that having an audience (onlookers) seemingly influences levels of cooperation in a non-human animal.

“Having an audience makes cleaner fish work to improve their reputation by behaving more cooperatively,” Grutter said.

“The fish in the audience - what we call ‘eavesdropping bystanders’ - used image scoring to decide which cleaner fish to avoid.”

–Indo-Asian News service

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