Daily changes in the electric behavior of weakly electric fish naturally persist in constant darkness and are socially synchronized

Adriana Migliaro, Victoria Moreno, Paul Marchal, Ana Silva
2018 Biology Open  
Daily rhythms allow anticipation of changes and allocation of energy to better cope with predictable events. Rhythms in behavior result from a complex combination of physiological processes timed by the nervous system and synchronized with external information. We aimed to understand how rhythmic behaviors arise in nature, when weakly electric fish are exposed to cyclic environmental influences and social context. Gymnotus omarorum is a South American nocturnal pulse-type gymnotiform. Its
more » ... ic behavior encodes information about species, sex and physiological state. The rate of emission of the electric organ discharge (EOD-BR) is modulated by exploratory activity and by physical and social environmental stimuli. We show that the EOD-BR increases during the night in the natural habitat even in individuals maintained in constant dark conditions. Locomotor activity is higher at night, however the nocturnal increase of EOD-BR still occurs in motionless fish, demonstrating an independent origin for the locomotor and electric components of exploratory behavior. When fish are observed in nature, social context exerts a synchronizing role on electric behavior. G. omarorum emerges as an exciting wild model for the study of daily rhythms arising in the complexity of the real world, integrating environmental, physical and social cues in the modulation of rhythmic behavior.
doi:10.1242/bio.036319 fatcat:gqxarugxhndundvheboiomju6y