Behavioural lateralization in a detour test is not repeatable in fishes

Dominique G. Roche*, Mirjam Amcoff, Rachael Morgan, Josefin Sundin, Anna H. Andreassen, Mette H. Finnøen, Michael J. Lawrence, Eleanor Henderson, Tommy Norin, Ben Speers-Roesch, Culum Brown, Timothy D. Clark, Redouan Bshary, Brian Leung, Fredrik Jutfelt, Sandra A. Binning

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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Behavioural lateralization, the asymmetric expression of cognitive functions, is reported to enhance key fitness-relevant traits such as group coordination, multitasking and predator escape. Therefore, studies reporting negative effects on lateralization in fish due to environmental stressors such as ocean acidification, hypoxia and pollutants are worrisome. However, such studies tend to use a detour test and focus on population level measures, without validating whether lateralization is consistent within individuals across time. We conducted a multispecies, international assessment of the repeatability (R) of lateralization in four previously studied fish species using a detour test (T-maze), a common method for testing lateralization. We also reanalysed a published data set on a fifth species using new statistical methods. We expected the three shoaling species to exhibit greater within-individual consistency in lateralization than their nonshoaling counterparts given previous reports of stronger lateralization in group-living fishes. Absolute and relative lateralization scores were highly nonrepeatable in all five species (0.01
Original languageEnglish
JournalAnimal Behaviour
Pages (from-to)55-64
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Behavioural plasticity
  • Laterality
  • Lateralization
  • Repeatability
  • T-maze


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