Male stickleback fish take more risks than females

Research led by Dr Andrew King, from Swansea University’s Department of Biosciences has found big differences in the behaviour of male and female fish in an experiment designed to test their personalities.

Andy KingThe study revealed that male stickleback fish were far more likely to go on missions to find food and were willing to take more risks than females.

The team caught the fish out of a large tank, and numbered them in the order they were caught. They then put each fish into a new test tank by themselves. This new tank had a “safe” end with a shelter, and an “open” end where the fish were trained to expect food hidden behind a tile.

“We found the fish that were caught first were also more likely to be exploratory in the new tank and also happened to be male” said Dr King. “Males can take risks because they haven’t got as much to lose.”

This study is part of a larger research programme undertaken by Dr King’s research group in Swansea, investigating why such individual differences in behaviour exist, and whether they are important to the way in which a group functions. The research team study social species from fish and birds, to monkeys and people.

The new research, has been published in the scientific journal PloS (Public Library of Science) ONE.

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