Social Control of Developmental Rate in the African Cichlid, Haplochromis burtoni


Department of Zoology, University of California, Berkeley, California 94720, USA

Department of Biology, University of Oregon, Eugene, Oregon 97403, USA.


Social regulation of developmental rate of the African cichlid fish, Haplochromis bur-toni, was studied experimentally. Broods were raised under three different social conditions: total isolation, with no visual, physical or chemical contact with siblings; physical isolation, with no physical or chemical contact with siblings; and in social groups. Development of behavior and color patterns were observed in fish from 2 to 14 weeks of age. Males were sacrificed at 4-week intervals to measure growth and maturation state. Results showed that developmental rate is influenced by the social environment. Males with no territories (raised in groups) grew and matured more slowly than those in all other conditions. These males were not prevented from maturing but both the rate and phenotypic expression of maturation were inhibited.