Influence of parasitism on shoal choice in the banded killifish (Fundulus diaphanus, Teleostei, Cyprinodontidae)
Banded killifish, Fundulus diaphanus, were presented individually with a choice of 'shoaling' with either of two conspecific stimulus shoals, one consisting of fish with externally visible black spots (indicating the presence of a parasitic trematode worm, Crassiphiala bulboglossa), the other consisting of fish without such spots. Both parasitized and unparasitized test fish significantly preferred to shoal with unparasitized stimulus shoals over parasitized ones. The relative preference of unparasitized killifish for unparasitized shoals increased with increasing degree of parasite load in parasitized stimulus fish. However, no significant preference by unparasitized fish for unparasitized shoals was observed if unparasitized shoals were presented versus mixed shoals consisting of parasitized and unparasitized fish. We conclude that killifish preferred unparasitized shoals over parasitized shoals only if all fish in the respective stimulus shoals were phenotypically uniform (either with or without black spots). A final experiment showed that killifish used black spots as an indicator of parasite presence to make their shoal choice. The significance of these results for the formation of parasite-assorted shoals is discussed.
Krause, J. (Jens), & Godin, J.-G.J. (1996). Influence of parasitism on shoal choice in the banded killifish (Fundulus diaphanus, Teleostei, Cyprinodontidae). Ethology, 102(1), 40–49.