The Effects of Habitat Complexity on the Cognitive Performance of Two Fish Species and Their Hybrids
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The complexity of an animal’s habitat plays a significant role in behavior, morphology as well as other life history traits. Habitat complexity may also play a significant role in an animal’s cognitive capabilities such as learning and memory attributes. In the field, I quantified habitat complexity in populations of two species of swordtail fishes – Xiphophorus birchmanni and X. malinche – as well as two populations of naturally occurring X. birchmanni/X. malinche hybrids found in the Rio Calnali, Hidalgo, Mexico. Habitat complexity differed between populations with X. malinche residing in the most complex and X. birchmanni in the least complex. In the laboratory, I tested spatial learning and memory capabilities of X. birchmanni, X. malinche, and their hybrids; I then investigated the relationship between habitat complexity and cognitive performance as well as the performance of hybrids compared to the parental species. Cognitive performance does not seem effected by habitat complexity. The hybrid populations do not seem to deviate in cognitive performance from that of the parental species.
Chance, Heather (2008). The Effects of Habitat Complexity on the Cognitive Performance of Two Fish Species and Their Hybrids. Available electronically from