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The effect of water temperature on routine swimming behaviour of new born guppies (Poecilia reticulata)

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Maud Kent, Alfredo F Ojanguren

School/Research organisations


Guppies have successfully established populations in places with thermal regimes very different from the Tropical conditions in their native range. This indicates a remarkable capacity for thermal adaptation. Given their vulnerability to predation as juveniles, acute changes in temperature, which can alter predator-prey relationships, can impact juvenile survival and have amplified consequences at the population level. To understand how temperature may impact juvenile survival and gain insight into their success as an invasive species, we researched the effect of acute temperature changes on the routine swimming behaviour of juvenile guppies. Using a novel 3-dimensional tracking technique, we calculated 4 routine swimming parameters, speed, depth, and variation in speed or depth, at 6 different test temperatures (17, 20, 23, 26, 29, or 32°C). These temperatures cover their natural thermal range and also extended past it in order to include upper and lower thermal limits. Using model selection, we found that body length and temperature had a significant positive relationship with speed. Variation in speed decreased with rising temperatures and fish swam slightly closer to the bottom at higher temperatures. All juveniles increased variation in depth at higher temperatures, though larger individuals maintained slightly more consistent depths. Our results indicate that guppies have a large thermal range and show substantial plasticity in routine swimming behaviours, which may account for their success as an invasive species.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)547-552
Number of pages6
JournalOpen Biology
Early online date6 Mar 2015
Publication statusPublished - 15 Apr 2015

    Research areas

  • Poecilia reticulata, Routine swimming, Temperature, Thermal range

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