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The Cultural Evolution Society's Online Learning Series

Animal Cultures: Core Discoveries and New Horizons

Lecture 7: Major study groups – Fish

Culum Brown, Macquarie University, Australia

Fishes have long been viewed as primitive animals with small brains and inflexible behavior. Research over the last two decades clearly shows that this is not the case. For the most part fishes are no different from terrestrial vertebrates and show incredible learning and memory skills across a number of domains.

In this lecture I first dispel the myth that fish have a three second memory. I then explore the interplay between the use of public versus private information. The lecture describes the complex social lives of fishes and many examples of social learning. I end with an exploration of culture in fishes and the practical implications for fisheries and conservation biology.

Culum Brown

Lecture slides (pdf)

Core (testable) readings

Brown, C. & Laland, K. N. (2011). Social learning in fishes. In: Fish Cognition and Behaviour 2nd Edition (Brown, C., Laland K. & Krause, J. eds). Blackwell Publishing, Cambridge, UK.

A review of social learning in fishes.

Brown, C. & Laland, K (2001) Social learning and life skills training for hatchery reared fish. Journal of Fish Biology 59 (3), 471-493.

A review of fisheries applications of social learning theory.

Further reading

See the many studies cited on the slides for further reading related to evidence of social learning and culture in fishes.

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