We tested zebrafish shoals to examine whether groups exhibit collective spatial learning and whether this relates to the personality of group members. To do this we trained shoals to associate a collective spatial decision with a reward and tested whether shoals could reorient to the learned location from a new starting point. There were strong indications of collective learning and collective reorienting, most likely by memorising distal cues, but these processes were unrelated to personality differences within shoals. However, there was evidence that group decisions require agreement between differing personalities. Notably, shoals with more boldness variation were more likely to split during training trials and took longer to reach a collective decision. Thus cognitive tasks, such as learning and cue memorisation, may be exhibited collectively, but the ability to reach collective decisions is affected by the personality composition of the group. A likely outcome of the splitting of groups with very disparate personalities is the formation of groups with members more similar in their personality.
- Collective cognition
- Spatial learning
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)