Prof. Rob McLaughlin has discovered that foraging behaviour of brook trout is related to the size of a particular region in the fish's brain.
"We found that the fish that swim around in the open in search of food have larger telencephalons than the fish that sit along the shoreline and wait for food to swim by in the water column," said the integrative biology professor.
"This means there is a correlation between foraging behaviour and brain morphology."
The telencephalon is a brain region involved with fish movement and use of space.
"It's responsible for a fish's ability to swim around to different places and remember landmarks in the environment so they don't get lost."
In previous research, McLaughlin discovered that brook trout display two personality types: fish that are active foragers and appear to be risk takers, and those that are sedentary and apparently more timid.
"These are young fish that have been foraging for less than a month, and we are already seeing a difference in the propensity to take risks and move around. This made us wonder if these differences were significant biologically."
For the current research, which was recently published in the journal Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, McLaughlin and researcher Alexander Wilson collected these two types of fish from the Credit River near Toronto and measured the size of their telencephalon region.
They also measured the brain's olfactory bulb to ensure that the active foragers did not simply have larger brains overall than the sedentary fish.
"We found there was no significant difference in the size of the olfactory bulb between the two types of fish," he said. "We picked this part of the brain because trout are visual feeders, so the olfactory bulb is not tied to foraging, and it's also an area that's near the telencephalon."
Although this research has shown that the fish's feeding activity is tied to brain structure, McLaughlin said it is still unclear whether behavioural differences reflect initial differences in the brain or whether the brain changes in response to differences in behaviour.
"It's possible there is something in the environment or in the fish's genetic makeup that is making some fish more active than others, and this level of activity is altering the brain," he said.
"There is evidence that fish are plastic and can change structure based on where neurons are developing more rapidly."
Either way, this finding will help in understanding the neural mechanism behind different foraging behaviours observed in wild animal populations.
"It's a huge step towards understanding why different types of personalities exist in the same species and how diversity arises in a population. We tend to focus on our impact on the environment and how our actions are reducing biodiversity and overlook processes in the environment that may be creating diversity."
Prof. Robert McLaughlin | EurekAlert!
Litter is present throughout the world’s oceans: 1,220 species affected
27.03.2017 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung
International network connects experimental research in European waters
21.03.2017 | Leibniz-Institut für Gewässerökologie und Binnenfischerei (IGB)
The Institute of Semiconductor Technology and the Institute of Physical and Theoretical Chemistry, both members of the Laboratory for Emerging Nanometrology (LENA), at Technische Universität Braunschweig are partners in a new European research project entitled ChipScope, which aims to develop a completely new and extremely small optical microscope capable of observing the interior of living cells in real time. A consortium of 7 partners from 5 countries will tackle this issue with very ambitious objectives during a four-year research program.
To demonstrate the usefulness of this new scientific tool, at the end of the project the developed chip-sized microscope will be used to observe in real-time...
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
29.03.2017 | Materials Sciences
29.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
29.03.2017 | Earth Sciences