Guppies have varying levels of self-control

January 15, 2021

Just like humans trying to stick to New Year's resolutions, guppies have varying levels of self-control, a new study shows.

Researchers from the University of Exeter and Ghent University studying the behaviours of Trinidadian guppies tested "inhibitory control" (suppressing unhelpful impulses or urges).
The tiny fish first learned how to swim into a cylinder to get food - then a cover was removed to make the cylinder transparent.

Inhibitory control was measured by whether a guppy resisted the urge to swim directly towards the food - bumping into the cylinder - or still swam around, relying on previous learning.

The findings revealed "consistent individual variation" - some guppies had more self-control than others.

"Studies of inhibitory control have traditionally focussed on a few bird and mammal species, but we now know it exists in a wide range of animals," said Dr Alessandro Macario, of Exeter's Centre for Research in Animal Behaviour.

"As well as finding consistent differences between individual guppies, the population of guppies we studied were, on average, half as able to control impulses as a different strain of guppies tested in a previous study under similar conditions.

"We can't be certain about the causes of this difference, but it's possible that the strain we studied had evolved in different social and environmental conditions - with less need for inhibitory control."

The study examined captive females, with each guppy tested multiple times.

In total, the fish inhibited the urge to swim directly at the food in 28.5% of trials.

No improvement was seen over time, but the researchers say this might have occurred if the guppies had been tested for longer.

Professor Darren Croft, also of the University of Exeter, said: "Our study is a first step towards understanding how inhibitory control has evolved in guppies.

"Guppies live in small rivers alongside predators so, for example, they might need the ability to hide and resist the urge to leave that hiding place to get food.

"The next step in this research is to examine the extent to which this trait affects guppies' chances of survival or reproduction."
-end-
The paper, published in the Journal of Fish Biology, is entitled: "Intraspecific variation in inhibitory motor control in guppies, Poecilia reticulata."

University of Exeter

Related Food Articles from Brightsurf:

Brain region tracking food preferences could steer our food choices
Researchers discovered that a specific brain region monitors food preferences as they change across thirsty and quenched states.

Rates of food insecurity remain high despite expansion of NYC food assistance programs
In the latest COVID-19 tracking survey from the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health & Health Policy conducted from September 25 to 27, 34% of the sample of one thousand New York City adults reported that their households had received SNAP benefits since September 1st, 2020.

Food mechanics recipe to serve up healthy food that lasts
Researchers are investigating the science of food drying to design faster, cheaper and better ways to store food.

Economic and food supply chain disruptions endanger global food security
COVID-19 has led to a global economic slowdown that is affecting all four pillars of food security - availability, access, utilization, and stability.

'Building wealth and health network' reduces food insecurity without providing food
As the coronavirus pandemic forces so many to reckon with growing food insecurity and increased health challenges, the Building Wealth and Health Network program of Drexel University's Center for Hunger-Free Communities is reducing food insecurity and improving mental health - without distributing any food or medicine.

Novel DNA analysis will help to identify food origin and counterfeit food in the future
Estonian scientists are developing a DNA-based method of analysis that enables them to identify food components and specify the origin of a foodstuff.

Holders of negative opinions towards GM food likely to be against other novel food tech
Scientists at NTU Singapore and the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health have found that people who hold negative opinions of genetically-modified (GM) food are likely to feel the same about nano-enabled food -- food with nano-additives to enhance flavor, nutrition or prolong shelf life.

UMD researchers seek to reduce food waste and establish the science of food date labeling
Minimizing food waste is top of mind right now during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Territorial short food supply chains foster food democracy and sustainability
A University of Cordoba study analyzed the governance mechanisms in territorial short food supply chains in Córdoba and Bogotá.

First study on human-grade dog food says whole, fresh food is highly digestible
some pet food companies are developing diets that more closely resemble human food, incorporating human-grade meat and vegetable ingredients that pass USDA quality inspections.

Read More: Food News and Food Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.