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Validation of 2D-animated pictures as an investigative tool in the behavioural sciences: a case study with a West African cichlid fish, Pelvicachromis pulcher
journal contributionposted on 2023-06-09, 14:49 authored by Ulrike Scherer, Jean-Guy J Godin, Wiebke SchuettWiebke Schuett
Virtual stimuli represent an increasingly popular tool in the study of animal behaviour. Modern techniques have the potential to simplify and improve traditional experiments using live stimuli. However, the increasing availability of diverse techniques is associated with problems and limitations. Although many new methods have been developed, their validation remains largely untested. In the present study, we therefore performed two experiments to test whether 2-D animations of predators and conspecifics elicit biologically appropriate behavioural responses in male rainbow kribs, Pelvicachromis pulcher. Individual responses towards a sympatric natural fish predator, Parachanna obscura, were tested using live predators and still colour photographs, animated using PowerPoint©. Compared to control trials (empty aquarium and white computer screen, respectively), individuals decreased their activity in response to both live and animated predators. We found no difference in activity between live and animation trials. Further, we tested individual aggression (frequency of aggressive behaviours) exhibited towards live and animated conspecifics. Individual aggressive behaviours shown towards live and animated conspecifics were positively correlated. Moreover, an individual's mean distance towards the opponent was a suitable proxy for individual aggression permitting the facilitation and standardisation of an individual's aggression through the use of a tracking software compared with the more laborious, traditional manual assessment. Our results show that simple, inexpensive animation techniques have the potential to provide an easy-to-apply and useful technological advance in animal behaviour research.
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- Evolution, Behaviour and Environment Publications
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