Guppy fish have quite complex personalities, according to a recent study conducted by researchers at the Exeter University, England. These found that, when faced with stressful situations, each fish responded in its own way.
Their reactions were also broader than just being risk-taking or risk-averse ones.
Stress Reveals the Complex Personality of Guppy Fish
The team of scientists, of the Exeter University Centre for Ecology and Conservation, studied the individual reactions of Trinidadian guppy fish. These were faced with diverse stressful situations, specially designed to trigger various stress levels.
In doing so, the team of researchers reported detecting significant differences in the reactions of the fish. According to the team, these could also not be explained by just applying a risk-averse or risk-taking behavior stamp.
The fish were reported to have returned widely different reactions to the same situation. For example, the fish were placed in an unfamiliar environment. While some of them tried to hide, and other to escape, some fish were ‘cautiously’ exploring this new habitat.
Tom Houslay, one of the researchers involved, states that the reactions of the guppy fish were different and “consistent” over time and also in diverse environments or different situations.
“So, while the behaviour of all the guppies changed depending on the situation – for example, all becoming more cautious in more stressful situations – the relative differences between individuals remained intact,” continued Houslay.
The researchers will now look to determine why and what led to the development of these fish’s complex personalities. So the next phase of the study will reportedly target to find the genetics behind these personalities and their associated traits.
Alastair Wilson, also part of the study, explains that the team will try and establish the relation between personality and other “facets of life”. Or to what degree this is driven by genetic and not environmental factors.
He explains that the ‘real goal’ is to better understand the “evolutionary processes”.
A study paper with the current study results is available in the journal Functional Ecology.
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