To trust or not to trust your friends

Jan 30, 2007

Sometimes it is better to follow the advice of others rather than your own mind even though you seem to have things under control. Not only humans but also fish follow this doctrine as shown by ecologists Jörgen Johnsson and Fredrik Sundström of Göteborg University, Sweden, in the journal Ethology.

They allowed European minnows to learn the correct route through a maze to obtain food in the presence or absence of a predatory brown trout. Then a naïve minnow joined the group on later trials either in the presence or absence of the trout. Naïve fish without the predator were only half as successful in finding the food when their group of mates had been pre-trained with the predator.

Therefore, in this situation the naïve fish would have been better off not trusting its group mates which had outdated information on predation risk. However, Johnsson and Sundstrom also found that regardless of predator treatment, the foraging success of the naïve fish improved as the skills of their experienced group mates increased.

Johnsson and Sundström suggest that an animals individual learning ability can not always keep up with rapid changes in the environment and that is why using social information, even if it is not always perfect, may still be more beneficial in the long run than relying only on yourself.

Source: Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

Explore further: Dairy farms asked to consider breeding no-horn cows

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Dairy farms asked to consider breeding no-horn cows

Mar 28, 2015

Food manufacturers and restaurants are taking the dairy industry by the horns on an animal welfare issue that's long bothered activists but is little known to consumers: the painful removal of budding horn ...

Italian olive tree disease stumps EU

Mar 27, 2015

EU member states are divided on how to stop the spread of a disease affecting olive trees in Italy that could result in around a million being cut down, officials said Friday.

China starts relocating endangered porpoises: Xinhua

Mar 27, 2015

Chinese authorities on Friday began relocating the country's rare finless porpoise population in a bid to revive a species threatened by pollution, overfishing and heavy traffic in their Yangtze River habitat, ...

A long-standing mystery in membrane traffic solved

Mar 27, 2015

In 2013, James E. Rothman, Randy W. Schekman, and Thomas C. Südhof won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their discoveries of molecular machineries for vesicle trafficking, a major transport ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.