Boldness and Information Use in Three-Spined Sticklebacks


Jennifer L. Harcourt, Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge, Downing Street, Cambridge CB2 3EJ, UK.


In foraging groups, individuals may utilise information from their social environment to aid decision making when choosing where to search for food. Little work has looked at the costs or benefits of behavioural differences, such as consistent individual variation in boldness, with respect to learning ability. Here, we investigate the response of three-spined stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus) to ‘social cues’, ‘local enhancement’ and ‘public information’ during foraging tasks. Our results confirm previous work suggesting that this species responds to social cues and local enhancement but not public information. Variation in boldness did not affect the use of different types of information. However, time taken to make a choice and reach a patch varied between fish with different levels of boldness. Contrary to expectation, shy fish were the more variable individuals, having a greater range of reaction times when responding to the tasks. This suggests that individual behavioural differences still play a role when utilising information obtained from the environment and may influence the relative benefits that could result in different contexts.