Journal article Open Access

Possible functions of the octavolateralis system in fish schooling

Larsson, Matz


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    <subfield code="a">The development of the octavolateralis system in fish ancestors created the
phenomenon of sensory reafference associated with the fish's own locomotion.
Particularly in fish species living and moving in groups, there is a potential to
produce complex pressure waves and other water movements interfering with the
octavolateralis perception of critical environmental signals. The hypothesis
presented is that the development of the octavolateralis system may have initiated,
or been a factor in, the evolutionary development of synchronized group
locomotion, eventually leading to schooling behaviour. Theoretical models suggest
that schooling may be related to a reduction in masking of environmental signals,
as well as to survival mechanisms, e.g. confusion of the lateral line and electrosensory
systems of predators by overlapping pressure waves and overlapping
electrical fields. The combined effects of reduced masking and predator confusion
may help explain why schooling became an evolutionary success. Including
pressure waves and other water movements in the model of join, stay or leave
decisions might shed some light on fish shoal assortment. A model encompassing
the complex effects of synchronized group locomotion on octavolateralis and
electro-sensory perception of both prey and predator fish might increase the
understanding of schooling behaviour.</subfield>
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