In nature, social groups of animals are typically nonrandom associations of individuals. Such group associations may in part be based on social familiarity among individuals, acquired through repeated past encounters and behavioural experiences with each other. The factors that potentially affect the tendency to associate with familiar individuals remain poorly understood. Here, we investigated whether shoaling preferences based on presumed familiarity occur in wild adult guppies (Poecilia reticulata) originating from a Trinidadian population that experiences relatively low predation intensity from fishes and whether any such preferences differ between the sexes. When tested shortly after being collected in the field, neither males nor females clearly preferred to shoal with familiar same-sex conspecifics (collected from the same pool in the river) over unfamiliar ones (from different pools). Importantly, our results differ from those previously reported for guppies originating from the same population as ours and for a high predation risk population in Trinidad, suggesting that the development of social familiarity and its role in the formation of shoals in nature vary both within and among populations in the guppy. We provide plausible explanations for these observed populational differences in shoaling preferences in the guppy and discuss certain ecological factors that may affect the development and expression of shoaling preferences based on familiarity in nature.

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Journal Canadian Journal of Zoology
Godin, J.-G.J, Alfieri, M.S. (Michael S.), Hoare, D.J. (Daniel J.), & Sadowski, J.A. (Jennifer A.). (2003). Conspecific familiarity and shoaling preferences in a wild guppy population. Canadian Journal of Zoology, 81(11), 1899–1904. doi:10.1139/z03-186