Aquatic Enrichment with Meaning: Assessing Neurological and Behavioral Effects of Valid Enrichment in Guppies (Poecilia reticulata)
Enrichment studies have provided valuable information about how behavioral and developmental traits of lab animals may be affected by complexity in their environments. To date, most studies have shown that enrichment can help lab animals behave and develop more similarly to their natural counterparts. However, enrichment studies in fish have provided very little evidence that enrichment, defined as physical complexity in an environment, has any effect on fish brain development or behavior. We believe that this is due to studies failing to provide any opportunities for fish to use and understand their enrichment. In this study, we raised guppies from birth in tanks that either contained enrichment objects or were barren, and provided to half of the fish in each of these groups opportunities to learn about and respond to their environment. We then measured the activity levels in testing contexts, spatial intelligence performance, socialization behavior, and brain areas of each guppy. We found that static enrichment had an effect on activity levels, socialization behavior, and relative brain structure areas, while learning opportunities interacted with enrichment for activity levels and also had an effect on relative brain structure. We conclude an enriched environment providing affordances for use does affect guppy development in a direction that may better replicate their wild counterparts.
Franklin and Marshall College Archives, Undergraduate Honors Thesis 2014
- F&M Theses Collection