Chikamura, Y., Takahashi, K., Masuda, R. 2023. A mixed-species shoal including fewer heterospecifics is preferred by jack mackerel Trachurus japonicus juveniles. Behavioural Processes 211, 104930.

Mixed-species shoals of fishes were reported from various environments such as coral reefs and temperate lakes. The driving mechanism of forming mixed-species shoal can be either haphazard or a preferential choice by an individual. Here, we tested if jack mackerel Trachurus japonicus, a temperate marine pelagic fish, could choose a shoal composition using vision based on a choice experiment. Shoal preference of jack mackerel juveniles was evaluated by presenting shoals comprising one to four heterospecifics (half-lined cardinal Ostorhinchus semilineatus) out of four shoal members to the focal fish. When both conspecific and heterospecific shoals were presented to a single jack mackerel, the focal fish showed a preference for the conspecific rather than heterospecific shoal, indicating that they can choose a conspecific shoal based on the visual information. However, when a focal fish encountered both conspecific and mixed-species shoals including fewer heterospecifics (one out of four individuals), the latter was preferred. The result implies that jack mackerel can judge a preferable composition of shoal using visual information. The inclusion of fewer heterospecifics may be exploiting oddity effects, whereby minority species are exposed to relatively high vulnerability to predators, as well as resulting in reduced competition for food while maintaining predator vigilance in a shoal.

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