As clear as mud: Turbidity induces behavioral changes in the African cichlidPseudocrenilabrus multicolor
Aquatic biodiversity is being lost at an unprecedented rate. One factor driving this loss is increased turbidity, an environmental stressor that can impose behavioral, morphological, and/or physiological costs on fishes. Here we describe the behavioral response of a widespread African cichlid, Pseudocrenilabrus multicolor victoriae, to turbidity. We used a split-brood rearing design to test if F1 offspring reared in turbid water, originating from river (turbid) and swamp (clear) populations,
... ar) populations, behave differently than full-sibs reared in clear water. We examined two facets of behavior: (1) behaviors of fish in full sib groups, including activity level and social dynamics collected during the rearing period; and (2) male aggressive behavior directed at potential male competitors after fish had reached maturity; this was done in an experimental set-up independent of the rearing aquaria. Regardless of population of origin, fish reared in turbid water were marginally less active and performed fewer social behaviors than those reared in clear water. On the other hand, when tested against a competitor in turbid water, males performed more aggressive behaviors, regardless of population of origin or rearing environment. Our results suggest a plastic behavioral response to turbidity that may allow P. multicolor to persist over a range of turbidity levels in nature by decreasing activity and general social behaviors and intensifying reproductive behaviors to ensure reproductive success [Current Zoology 58 (1) :  2012].