ABS 2022
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Amazon Mollies Respond to Conflicting Information by Weighing Previous Experience More Heavily
Jonathan Aguiņaga, Candice Mitchell, Kate Laskowski. University of California, Davis, Davis, CA, United States

Animals live in an uncertain world. Individuals can reduce their uncertainty about the best behavioral decision by collecting information directly, or by monitoring the actions of others. But how do animals resolve conflict when private and social information do not agree? Here, we compared how Amazon mollies (Poecilia formosa) respond to social information that conflicts with its private experiences. Fish were first trained with private and social information that coincided to indicate ‘safe’ or ‘risky’ conditions. For the ‘safe’ treatment, a novel chemical cue (private information) was paired with social information of a foraging shoal, while the ‘risky’ treatment paired the private information with a molly alarm cue and social information of a freezing shoal. After training, the social and private information were presented in conflict: fish trained with safe private information now had social information that indicated risk and vice versa. Somewhat surprisingly, we found that fish did not adjust their behavior in response to conflicting social information. Instead, fish strongly habituated to the behavioral assay and seemed to disregard social information entirely.