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How does hunger affect convergence on prey patches in a social forager?

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Abstract

Internal state, in this case hunger, is known to influence both the organisation of animal groups and the social foraging interactions that occur within them. In this study we investigated the effects of hunger upon the time taken to locate and converge upon hidden simulated prey patches in a socially foraging fish, the threespine stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus). We predicted that groups of food-deprived fish would find and recruit to prey patches faster than recently fed groups, reasoning that they might search more rapidly and be more attentive to inadvertent social information produced by other foragers. Instead we saw no difference between the two groups in the time taken to find the patches and found that in fact, once prey patches had been discovered, it was the recently fed fish that converged on them most rapidly. This finding is likely due to the fact that recently fed fish tend to organise themselves into fewer but larger subgroups, which arrived at the food patch together. Hunger has a significant impact upon the social organisation of the fish shoals, and it appears that this has a stronger effect upon the rate at which they converged upon the food patches than does internal state itself.
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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)811-817
JournalEthology
Volume123
Issue number11
Early online date17 Aug 2017
DOIs
StateE-pub ahead of print - 17 Aug 2017

    Research areas

  • Foraging, Producer-scrounger, Social information

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ID: 250542323