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Early life behavioural differences in wild caught and domesticated sea bass (Dicentrarchus labrax)

By David Benhaïm, Samuel Péan, Gaël Lucas, Nancy Blanc, Béatrice Chatain, Marie-Laure Bégout

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Behavioural studies comparing hatchery and wild-caught fish are useful to improve selection for aquaculture and restocking programmes. We examined swimming behaviour characteristics in wild captured and domesticated sea bass juveniles before and after eliciting a startle response at 8 different ages and always on naive individuals. We specifically investigated whether domestication impacts juvenile sea bass behaviour and whether the first months of captivity induce behavioural modifications in wild juveniles. An apparatus was designed to mimic a predator attack by presenting a sudden visual and mechanical stimuli simultaneously in 8 arenas where single individuals were placed and video recorded. The reactivity response was evaluated and different swimming variables including angular velocity, total distance travelled, mean velocity, immobility and distance from stimulus point were analysed from videos taken 5min before stimulus actuation, 5 and 15min after. Otolith readings showed that wild and domesticated juveniles were of similar age (∼55 days at the start of the experiment and ∼125 at the end of experiment). There were consistent behavioural differences (e.g. higher angular velocity and distance from stimulus point in wild fish) demonstrating that domestication reduces flight response behaviour. There were also similarities between both fish origins (similar response to stimulus actuation: decrease of total distance travelled and mean velocity, increase of angular velocity and immobility). A decrease over time in reactivity and variability in swimming responses among fish of both origins showed that captivity only does not fully explain wild fish behaviour changes and ontogenic modifications are likely interplaying.

Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 141
Issue 1
Pages 79-90
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
DOI 10.1016/j.applanim.2012.07.002
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Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Coping
  2. Domestication
  3. restocking
  4. Selection
  5. swimming