Social cues can push amphibious fish to their thermal limits
Tattersall, Glenn J
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Social context can impact how animals respond to changes in their physical environment. We used an aggressive, amphibious fish, the mangrove rivulus (Kryptolebias marmoratus) with environmentally-determined sociality to test the hypothesis that social interactions would push fish to their thermal limits. We capitalized on the propensity of rivulus to emerge from warming water and demonstrated that social stimuli, produced by their reflection, increased emersion threshold without changing critical thermal maximum, effectively diminishing thermal safety margins. When rivulus were denied air access, surface behaviours dramatically increased, supplanting social interactions. This suggests that assessing the terrestrial environment is crucially important. We conclude that social stimulation narrows the scope for survival in naturally stressful conditions.