Responses of crayfish to a reflective environment /
May, Holly Y.
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This thesis examines how dominance status of crayfish alters responses to their own reflection. Crayfish are social animals that fight to develop a dominance hierarchy consisting of dominant and subordinate members. After socialization, crayfish were videotaped in an aquarium with mirrors on one half of the tank and a non-reflective plastic on the other half. Dominants paired for 14 days perform more cornering, turning, crossing and spent more time in a reflective environment versus a non-reflective environment. Subordinate crayfish exhibit more reverse walking in a mirrored environment while isolated crayfish show no preference for reflection. This change in behaviour occurs immediately for dominants paired for 30 min while subordinates require 3 days of pairing to exhibit the same behaviour as subordinate crayfish paired for 14 days. Thus, 30 min of pairing is required to enhance responses to a reflection observed in dominant crayfish while 3 days is required to decrease subordinate responses to a reflection. These findings propose that male socialized crayfish respond to their mirror image as they do a male conspecific. Their responses depend on both their dominance status and the length of socialization which suggests that crayfish are learning to behave in a characteristic manner as a result of their social experience.