Species Recognition in Mormyrid Weakly Electric Fish

Publication Type:Journal Article
Year of Publication:1986
Authors:P. Moller, Serrier J.
Journal:Anim Behav
Keywords:brienomyrus-niger gnathoenemus-petersii marcusenius-cyprinoides pollimyrus-isidori group cohesion social cue electric organ discharge sensory cue electroreceptive cue attraction africa

We investigated group cohesion in four species of African weakly electric fish (Brienomyrus niger, Gnathonemus petersii, Marcusenius cyprinoides and Pollimyrus isidori). The attraction among members of the same and different species served as the criterion for species recognition. To identify possible mechanisms underlying this ability, conspecifics were allowed to interact through a wide-meshed plastic screen with either a pair of confined conspecifics or a pair from a related species. Members of each of the four test species were optimally attracted to their own kind, but also responded selectively to the presence of the other species. These interspecific interactions ranged from attraction to avoidance. The difference in the fish's preference to aggregate in inter- and intraspecific interactions pointed to species-specific social cues that facilitate group cohesion in mormyrid fish. Since all four species respond to each other's electric organ discharge with changes in their own discharge rate, species recognition cannot be merely a function of electroreceptor characteristics but must involve the integration of electroreceptive and other sensory cues.

Alternate Journal:Animal Behaviour

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