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Concurrent effects of familiarity and kinship on social affiliations in convict cichlid (Amatitlania siquia) young

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The cues associated with social familiarity and genetic relatedness and how they interact to influence the formation of social associations among individuals, and thus group composition and dynamics, is poorly understood. Here, we investigated the concurrent effects of social familiarity and kinship on social affiliations in free-swimming convict cichlid fish young or ‘fry’ (Amatitlania siquia) by pitting the cues of social familiarity and kinship against each other in a four-way choice apparatus. Individual focal fish were given a simultaneous choice to associate (‘shoal’) with conspecifics that were either socially familiar and kin (full sibs), socially unfamiliar and kin, socially familiar and not kin, or socially unfamiliar and not kin. Stimulus shoal preference differed depending on the body length of the focal fish; smaller fry exhibited no preference, whereas larger (more mobile) fry significantly preferred to associate with familiar kin. In the convict cichlid system, where brood mixing occurs in the wild, a preference to associate with familiar kin may confer fitness benefits to individuals, especially when fry become more mobile as they grow and encounter predators more often. Our results contribute to further our understanding of the roles of familiarity and kinship in the formation of social associations in the convict cichlid in particular and in animals in general.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Biology, Carleton University, 1125 Colonel By Drive, Ottawa, ON, Canada K1S 5B6


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