Behavioural and life-history responses of mosquitofish to biologically inspired and interactive robotic predators

Giovanni Polverino, Mert Karakaya, Chiara Spinello, Vrishin R. Soman, Maurizio Porfiri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Invasive alien species threaten biodiversity worldwide and contribute to biotic homogenization, especially in freshwaters, where the ability of native animals to disperse is limited. Robotics may offer a promising tool to address this compelling problem, but whether and how invasive species can be negatively affected by robotic stimuli is an open question. Here, we explore the possibility of modulating behavioural and life-history responses of mosquitofish by varying the degree of biomimicry of a robotic predator, whose appearance and locomotion are inspired by natural mosquitofish predators. Our results support the prediction that real-time interactions at varying swimming speeds evoke a more robust antipredator response in mosquitofish than simpler movement patterns by the robot, especially in individuals with better body conditions that are less prone to take risks. Through an information-theoretic analysis of animal-robot interactions, we offer evidence in favour of a causal link between the motion of the robotic predator and a fish antipredator response. Remarkably, we observe that even a brief exposure to the robotic predator of 15 min per week is sufficient to Erode energy reserves and compromise the body condition of mosquitofish, opening the door for future endeavours to control mosquitofish in the wild.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number20190359
JournalJournal of the Royal Society Interface
Issue number158
StatePublished - 2019


  • Animal personality
  • Bioengineering
  • Biomimetics
  • Body condition
  • Invasive species
  • Predation risk

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Biophysics
  • Bioengineering
  • Biomaterials
  • Biochemistry
  • Biomedical Engineering


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