Acquired versus innate prey capturing skills in super-precocial live-bearing fish

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingAbstractAcademic


Live-bearing fish start hunting for mobile prey within hours after
birth, an example of extreme precociality. Because prenatal, in
utero, development of this behaviour is constrained by the lack of
free-swimming sensory-motor interactions, immediate success
after birth depends on innate, evolutionary acquired patterns.
Optimal performance however requires flexible adjustment to an
unpredictable environment. To distinguish innate from postnatally
acquired patterns we analyzed over 2000 prey capture events for 28
Metallic livebearers (Girardinus metallicus; Poeciliidae), during
their first three days after birth. We show that the use of synchronous
pectoral fin beats for final acceleration and ingestion is truly innate. It allows for direct control while avoiding head yaw, supporting
immediate success. Rapid development of eye movements and
body curvatures, however, show that eye-tail coordination requires
postnatal learning and calibration. The combination of innate motor
programs and rapid, postnatal development reveal how superprecocial
animals optimize survival into adulthood.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSun, sea & science
Subtitle of host publicationAbstract book SEB Brighton 2016: 4-7 July, 2016 Brighton Centre, UK
PublisherSociety for Experimental Biology
Publication statusPublished - 2016
EventSociety for Experimental Biology (SEB) 2016 - SEB 2016, Brighton, United Kingdom
Duration: 4 Jul 20167 Jul 2016


ConferenceSociety for Experimental Biology (SEB) 2016
CountryUnited Kingdom

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