Collective response of fish to combined manipulations of illumination and flow

Daniel A.Burbano Lombana, Maurizio Porfiri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Collective behavior is ubiquitous among fish, yet, its hows and whys are yet to be completely elucidated. It is known that several environmental factors can dramatically influence collective behavior, by eliciting behavioral adaptations in the individuals and altering physical pathways of social interactions in the group. Yet, empirical research has mostly focused on the quantification of the role of one factor at a time, with a paucity of studies designed to explore the multi-sensory basis of collective behavior. We investigated collective behavior of zebrafish (Danio rerio) pairs swimming in a water channel under combined manipulations of illumination (bright and dark) and flow conditions (absence and presence). The ability of the pair to orient and school increased in the presence of the flow and when fish were allowed to visually interact under bright illumination. Shoaling, instead, was only modulated by the illumination, so that fish swam at higher relative distances in the dark, irrespective of the flow. We also found evidence in favor of a modulatory effect of flow and illumination on the formation of the pair. Specifically, in the bright illumination, fish swam more side-by-side against a flow than in placid water; likewise, in the presence of a flow, they spent more time side-by-side in the bright illumination than in the dark. These findings point at a rich interplay between flow and illumination, whose alterations have profound effects on collective behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number104767
JournalBehavioural Processes
StatePublished - Nov 2022


  • Collective behavior
  • Danio rerio
  • Orientation
  • Schooling
  • Shoaling
  • Zebrafish

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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