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Data for Chretien et al. 2021 Group size influences individual metabolic traits in a social fish

Emmanuelle Chretien

Group living is widespread among animal species and yields both costs and benefits. Presence of conspecifics can restrict or enhance the expression of individual behaviour, and the recent social environment is thought to affect behavioural responses in later contexts, even when individuals are alone. However, little is known about how social dynamics influence the expression of individual physiological traits, including metabolic rates. There is some evidence that shoaling can reduce fish metabolic rates, but habitat conditions such as shelter availability may generate density-dependent influences on individual metabolic rates. We investigated how social group size and availability of shelter influence Eurasian minnow Phoxinus phoxinus metabolic rates estimated by respirometry in the presence or absence of plant shelter. Respirometry trials were conducted before and after we housed fish for three weeks in a social treatment consisting in a specific group size (n= 4 or 8) and shelter availability (presence or absence of plant shelter in the holding tank). Minimum day-time and night-time metabolic rates estimated while in presence of plant shelter were lower than when estimated in absence of plant shelter, both before and after individuals were housed in their social group size and shelter availability treatment. Standard metabolic rate was higher for fish held in groups of four as compared to fish held in groups of eight while maximum metabolic rate showed no difference. Shelter availability during the social treatments did not influence standard or maximum metabolic rates. Our results suggest that group size may directly influence energy demands of individuals, highlighting the importance of understanding the role of social dynamics on variations in physiological traits associated with energy expenditure.

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