Unpredictability in food supply during early life influences growth and boldness in European Seabass, Dicentrarchus labrax

Type Article
Date 2016-07
Language English
Author(s) Ferrari Sebastien1, 2, Leguay Didier1, Vergnet Alain2, Vidal Marie-Odile2, Chatain Beatrice2, Begout Marie-LaureORCID1
Affiliation(s) 1 : IFREMER, Pl Gaby Coll, F-17137 Lhoumeau, La Rochelle, France.
2 : IFREMER, UMR MARBEC, Stn Expt Aquaculture, Chemin Maguelone, F-34250 Palavas Les Flots, France.
Source Applied Animal Behaviour Science (0168-1591) (Elsevier Science Bv), 2016-07 , Vol. 180 , P. 147-156
DOI 10.1016/j.applanim.2016.10.003
WOS© Times Cited 3
Abstract Biological variability is no longer considered as statistical noise, but rather as an adaptive benefit. This variability comes from consistent differences in behavioral and physiological responses among individuals to a changing/challenging environment, named “coping style”, “temperament” or “personality”. Many studies have described how to characterize personality traits and how to assess their consistency over time and between different contexts; however, little is known about the environmental factors shaping personality development. Because contrasting personalities are maintained with evolution, this lead to the widespread assumption that genes play a predominant role in personality. In many cases, personality traits are however also likely to be determined by individual experience, which is probably at least as important as genetics in shaping personality. The aim of this study was to assess how environmental variability (herein food predictability) impacts behavioral responses, particularly the shyness-boldness axis, one of the most widely shared animal personality trait. Here, we reared juvenile seabass (95 days old) from two divergent strains selected for feed deprivation tolerance under standard conditions for 40 days. Thereafter, we submitted them to two feeding treatments (Predictable vs Unpredictable) starting at 135 dph and lasting 60 days. Seabass reared under a predictable food supply (PFS) grew faster and were shyer than fish reared under an unpredictable food supply (UFS) (i.e. they took more time to exit the refuge zone of a Z-maze; UFS: 132.47 ± 34.63 s; PFS: 336.79 ± 56.97 s) but their exploration tendency was similar. We also examined the behavioral responses of these fish facing a hypoxic challenge. Hypoxia tolerance results were consistent before and after the two feeding treatments. Our findings show the importance of early environmental experience as a driving force shaping boldness. In addition, we provide further evidence that predictable feeding time should be respected in studies assessing essential functions such as growth and behavior. Although personality traits are partially heritable, this study demonstrates the important influence of environmental conditions and life history on behavior
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