facebook
twitter
rss
account
search
search
 

Same-size fish group for protection

Feb. 6, 2013 at 8:01 PM   |   Comments

NEW YORK, Feb. 6 (UPI) -- Fish smell each other to find others their size and then stick together in schools for protection against predators, Canadian and Australian researchers say.

Ashley Ward from the University of Sydney in Australia and Suzanne Currie from Mount Allison University in Canada report chemical cues help fish find others of the same size to form a group with strength in numbers.

Grouping together reduces individual risk from predators, they said, because when predators are confronted by a number of almost identical-size prey animals they find it more difficult to select a target.

"Fish typically form shoals with fish of the same size," Ward said. "The key question that motivated our study is this: How on Earth does a fish know how big it is?

"For humans this is trivial -- we can stand on a flat surface and see whether we're taller or shorter than someone, or we can look in a mirror. These options don't exist for fish, so how do they choose to associate with fish of the same size?"

Ward and Currie studied freshwater fish and the chemical cues that are created as they constantly emit molecules into their surroundings and found shoaling fish preferred the chemical cues of same-sized fish to those of larger or smaller fish from their own species.

"We know the sense of smell is well developed in fish and that they are sensitive to tiny differences in the chemical signature given off by others," Ward said. "So could they smell how big they are themselves and use this as a template to assess the size of others? It seems they can."

The study has been published in the journal Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology.

© 2013 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
Most Popular
1
Antarctic ice loss responsible for measurable shift in gravity Antarctic ice loss responsible for measurable shift in gravity
2
Social network Ello getting thousands of requests per hour Social network Ello getting thousands of requests per hour
3
NASA photos show Aral Sea is now just a sliver NASA photos show Aral Sea is now just a sliver
4
Apple releases fix for 'Shellshock' virus Apple releases fix for 'Shellshock' virus
5
Mini star ejects mega flares Mini star ejects mega flares
Trending News
x
Feedback