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Size, Sex, and Stress: Factors affecting lateralized behaviour and boldness in the convict cichlid (Amatitlania nigrofasciata) Open Access


Other title
Convict cichlid
Cerebral lateralization
Damage-induced alarm cues
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Moscicki, Michele K
Supervisor and department
Hurd, Peter (Psychology)
Examining committee member and department
Cassady St. Clair, Colleen (Biology)
Brown, Culum (Biology)
Singhal, Anthony (Psychology)
Spetch, Marcia (Psychology)
Department of Psychology

Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
Cerebral lateralization, the partitioning of cognitive functions preferentially into one hemisphere of the brain, is a trait ubiquitous among vertebrates. Although this trait is pervasive, not all individuals show the same degree or direction of lateralized behaviour. Individual differences in the expression of lateralized behaviour have been linked to factors such as growth rate, neuroanatomical asymmetry, and individual personality traits. The research presented in this thesis was conducted to examine the influence of these variables, as well as additional factors, on the expression of lateralized and other behaviours in a species of Central American fish, the convict cichlid (Amatitlania nigrofasciata). Study 1 revealed that differences in growth rate during the juvenile stage affected lateralized behaviour when viewing social stimuli. Study 2 showed that the type of stimuli, social or non-social, as well as the sex of the subject, influenced lateralized behaviour. In Study 3, a stressor altered lateralized behaviour such that the right hemisphere became more heavily involved in processing stimuli. This effect was predominantly found in females. This study also revealed a relationship between lateralized behaviour and neuroanatomical asymmetry that was not apparent when the stressor was absent. Study 4 showed that neuroanatomical asymmetry was unrelated to boldness in convict cichlids. Boldness did, however, influence the response of fish to stressors; this response was modulated by previous experience with stressors in females. These studies reveal that size, sex, stimulus type, stress, and experience interact to affect lateralized and boldness behaviour in the convict cichlid.
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of these terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
Citation for previous publication
Moscicki, M.K., Reddon, A.R., & Hurd, P.L. (2011). Lateralized behaviour of a non-social cichlid fish (Amatitlania nigrofasciata) in a social and a non-social environment. Behavioural Processes, 88, 27-32.

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