Animals that undergo a habitat shift face a number of challenges as they move between habitats; for example, they may encounter new predator species and may be vulnerable as they adapt to their new surroundings. An ability to adapt quickly to the new environment is likely to influence post-transition survival, and an understanding of the development of this ability is important in species that we rear for conservation and reintroduction programmes. Juvenile cod, Gadus morhua, undergo a habitat shift during their development, and they are also a species where reintroduction work has been tried. Here, we describe an experiment that investigated the effects that rearing environment has on cod shoaling behaviour. Cod were tested just after they had undergone the transition from a pelagic to a more benthic existence. We found that cod reared in either an enriched or in a plain, standard hatchery environment differed in terms of their shoaling responses; the shoaling tendency of fish reared in enriched tanks varied between testing environments, but fish reared in plain environments responded in the same way across the testing conditions. We discuss the influence of early experience on the development of appropriate behavioural responses and the importance of this for captive-reared species that are released into the wild.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Animal Science and Zoology