Strain differences in the collective behaviour of zebrafish (Danio rerio) in heterogeneous environment

Axel Séguret, Bertrand Collignon, José Halloy
Royal Society Open Science 2016, 3 (10): 160451
Recent studies show differences in individual motion and shoaling tendency between strains of the same species. Here, we analyse collective motion and response to visual stimuli in two morphologically different strains (TL and AB) of zebrafish. For both strains, we observed 10 groups of 5 and 10 zebrafish swimming freely in a large experimental tank with two identical landmarks (cylinders or discs) for 1 h. We tracked the positions of the fish by an automated tracking method and compute several metrics at the group level. First, the probability of the presence shows that both strains avoid free space and are more likely to swim in the vicinity of the walls of the tank and the landmarks. Second, the analysis of landmarks occupancy shows that AB zebrafish are more present in their vicinity than TL ones and that both strains regularly transit from one to the other one with no preference on the long duration. Finally, TL zebrafish show a higher cohesion than AB zebrafish. Thus, environmental heterogeneity and duration of the trials allow to reveal individual and collective behavioural variabilities among different strains of zebrafish. These results provide a new insight into the need to take into account individual variability of zebrafish strains for studying collective behaviour.


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