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Title: Population differences in the orientation behaviour of three-spined sticklebacks
Author: Girvan, Joanna R.
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1999
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The aim of this thesis was to determine how ecology shapes spatial learning and behaviour in different populations of three-spined sticklebacks (Gasterosteus aculeatus). These fish occupy a wide range of marine and freshwater habitats and their behaviour is, therefore, subject to a range of different selective pressures. Under experimental conditions, fish sampled from three river habitats exhibited preferences for developing algorithmic behaviour (i.e. learning a series of turns or movements), while fish from two pond habitats showed a preference for visual landmark information. Furthermore, two river populations were found to be more adept at using direction of flow to orientate than two pond populations. Habitat survey for each of he populations tested were carried out. These surveys were used to assess candidate ecological correlates that may be responsible for the observed population learning and memory differences. In addition, morphological assessment of the different populations revealed a degree of morphological variation. Inferences about feeding ecology and predation pressures in the various habitats were drawn from these results. To determine whether the observed variable spatial ability arose through genetic differences between the populations or was learned anew by each generation, artificial breeding and rearing experiments were carried out. These revealed that the spatial cue preferences and abilities of the three-spined sticklebacks were influenced by an interaction between experience during development and inherited factors. The results of this work have revealed intra-specific variation in both spatial cognition and morphology among natural populations of three-spined stickleback. This variation appeared to be related to the different selective pressures exerted by their respective environments.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available