Density and group size influence shoal cohesion, but not coordination in zebrafish (Danio rerio)

Delia S. Shelton, Brittany C. Price, Karen M. Ocasio, Emília P. Martins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


The formations made by gregarious animals can range from loose aggregates to highly synchronized and ordered structures. For very large, coordinated groups, both physical and social environments are important for determining the physical arrangement of individuals in the group. Here we tested whether physical and social factors are also important in determining the structure of small, loosely coordinated groups of zebrafish. We found that even though our fish were not crowded and did not use most of the available space, the distance between individual fish was explained primarily by the amount of available space (i.e., density). Zebrafish in a larger space spread out more and the total dimensions of the shoal were an additive function also of group size. We, however, did not find any impact of social or physical environment on the orientation of individual fish or shoal. Thus, both physical and social factors were important for shoal spatial arrangements, but not individual orientation and shoal alignment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)72-77
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Comparative Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Density
  • Environmental structure
  • Group size
  • Shoal cohesion
  • Zebrafish

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Psychology (miscellaneous)


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