DISSERTATION RESEARCH: Behavioral adaptation to captivity in the zebrafish, Danio rerio
PI Barrie D. Robison Proposal # IOS-0808551 Behavioral adaptation to captivity in the zebrafish, Danio rerio.
Captive breeding programs are often used as a conservation tool. Unfortunately, adaptation to the captive environment (domestication) can produce dramatic behavioral changes that make captive animals unsuitable for release into the wild. Understanding the processes that produce the tame behavior typical of domesticated populations helps the development of informed conservation decisions. Wild and domestic zebrafish will be used to examine the relationship between stress and the tame behavioral type produced by domestication. Studies will integrate behavioral and hormonal assays with studies of genetics. Wild populations of zebrafish are expected to show higher levels of stress hormones in the laboratory relative to domestic populations, as well as higher responses to stressful activities such as handling by humans. This research will build understanding of how and why behavior changes during domestication, and set the stage for future studies on the genetic basis of these changes. Broader impacts will include research training opportunities that will enhance educational experiences by integrating studies of behavior, endocrinology, and genetics. The work will include mentoring of undergraduate students.