ABS 2022
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Fine-tuning Shoaling for Functional Manipulation in Threespined Stickleback, Gasterosteus aculeatus
Usan Dan1, Alison M. Bell1,2,3. 1Neuroscience Program, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, Illinois, United States; 2Department of Evolution, Ecology, and Behaviour, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, Illinois, United States; 3Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, Illinois, United States

Recent advances in technology have made functional manipulation through viral-mediated transgenesis a possibility in an increasing number of non-traditional model organisms, including threespined stickleback, Gasterosteus aculeatus. As such, behavioural assays now need to be modified to accommodate behavioural changes brought about by functional manipulation; not only do assays need to reliably elicit behaviour, they also need to be able to demonstrate and measure changes in the behaviour of interest. In this study, we tested two shoaling assays for their ability to elicit shoaling behaviour and the repeatability of behavior in the assays. Then, we tested several modifications to the shoaling assay that was more successful at eliciting shoaling behaviour, to fine-tune it for use in an experiment that tests candidate genes related to shoaling. We show that the final form of the assay successfully elicits a moderate amount of shoaling behaviour, with the possibility to show both measurable increases and decreases in behaviour. We will also discuss considerations for controls, data interpretation, and some unexpected findings.