41.9 Thursday, Jan. 5 Social context and behavioral plasticity in the mangrove rivulus (Kryptolebias marmoratus) FULLER, Adam B.*; HANNINEN, Amanda F.; ROBINSON, Stephanie; LENOX, Annie; EARLEY, Ryan L.; Univ. of Alabama, Tuscaloosa; Univ. of Alabama, Tuscaloosa; Univ. of Alabama, Tuscaloosa; Univ. of Alabama, Tuscaloosa; Univ. of Alabama, Tuscaloosa email@example.com
A fundamental question in the biological sciences is how genes and environment interact to govern phenotype. Mangrove rivulus, Kryptolebias marmoratus, naturally produce genetically identical offspring through self fertilization, and therefore provide a powerful model in which to explore questions about behavioral and morphological plasticity in response to social context experienced during development. We used two isogenic strains of this species to examine how social environment and genetic background interact to dictate adult behavioral and morphological phenotype. In two separate experiments we raised fish from hatching to the onset of adulthood (10 weeks) either in isolation or in groups of two or four conspecifics. Growth rates, feeding rates, and within-group interactions were monitored throughout, and animals were subjected to standardized tests for aggression and boldness at 10 weeks. Fish raised with conspecifics grew more rapidly than isolates, but with greater variation between individuals. Within-group aggression contributed to the formation of dominance hierarchies in group-housed animals, and likely explains growth rate variance in that treatment. We also show that social context affects the adult behavioral phenotype. We discuss our results in the context of consistent behavioral and morphological differences that emerge as a consequence of differences in social environment experienced during early development.