Behaviour 2019
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Enhanced sensitivity for olfactory cues allows adult zebrafish to compensate for poor visual conditions
Piyumika Suriyampola1, Melissa Lopez1, Bronte Ellsworth1, Danita Daniel2, Tamal Roy1, Anuradha Bhat2, Emilia Martins1. 1Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ, United States; 2India Institute of Science Education and Research, Kolkata, WB, India

Animals’ experience on cue reliability is contextual and may shape investment in sensory modalities. Such sensory plasticity could be beneficial even beyond a critical period as animals frequently encounter new environments during navigation. Here, we tested how the sensitivity and preference for visual and olfactory cues vary in adult zebrafish exposed to light or dark conditions. We found that fish from dark conditions responded less robustly to optomotor stimulus but reacted strongly to olfactory cues compared to the fish from light treatments. This shift in sensitivity was also reflected in cue preference behavior because fish from dark conditions chose olfactory cues as their first choice. However, when testing two wild zebrafish populations from different visual environments, we found visual acuity and cue preference to be similar. These results suggest that compensatory shifts can occur based on the recent experiences even beyond the critical developmental period, but it could be influenced differently based on the evolution or developmental background. Such compensatory mechanisms may help animals maintain their behavior, buffering the effects of environmental changes.