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Zebrafish Danio rerio shows behavioural cross‐context consistency at larval and juvenile stages but no consistency between stages

Abstract : Coping style is defined as a set of individual physiological and behavioural characteristics that are consistent across time and context. In the zebrafish Danio rerio, as well as in many other animals, several covariations have been established among behavioural, physiological and molecular responses. Nonetheless, not many studies have addressed the consistency in behavioural responses over time starting at the larval stage. Therefore, this study aimed to improve the understanding of behavioural consistency across contexts and over time in zebrafish from the larval to juvenile stages. Two distinct experiments were conducted: a larval stage experiment (from 8 to 21 days post fertilization, dpf) and a juvenile stage experiment (from 21 to 60 dpf). On one hand, the larval experiment allows to focus on the transition between 8 and 21 dpf, marked by significant morphological changes related to the end of larval stage and initiation of metamorphosis. On the other hand, the juvenile experiment allows to properly cover the period extending from the end of larval stage to the juvenile stage (60 dpf), including metamorphosis which is itself completed around 45 dpf. Within each experiment, boldness was determined using a group risk-taking test to identify bold and shy individuals. A novel environment test was then performed at the same age to evaluate consistency across contexts. Groups of fish (either bold or shy) were bathed in an alizarin red S solution for later identification of their initially determined coping style to evaluate behavioural consistency over time. Fish were then reared under common garden conditions and challenged again with the same behavioural tests at a later age (21 and 60 dpf in the larval and juvenile experiments, respectively). Behavioural consistency was observed across contexts, with bold fish being more active and expressing higher thigmotaxis regardless of age. There was, however, little behavioural consistency over age, suggesting behavioural plasticity during development. Moreover, the use of alizarin red S to conduct this experiment provides new perspectives for the further study of the longitudinal evolution of various traits, including behaviour, over life stages in fish.
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Submitted on : Friday, September 24, 2021 - 11:42:31 AM
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Sébastien Alfonso, Manon Peyrafort, Xavier Cousin, Marie‐laure Bégout. Zebrafish Danio rerio shows behavioural cross‐context consistency at larval and juvenile stages but no consistency between stages. Journal of Fish Biology, Wiley, 2020, 96 (6), pp.1411-1421. ⟨10.1111/jfb.14310⟩. ⟨hal-03353689⟩



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