Proceedings of The Physiological Society

Future Physiology (Leeds, UK) (2017) Proc Physiol Soc 39, PC50

Poster Communications

Conspecifics modulate swimming physiology and kinematics in schooling fish

D. Ripley1, M. Fath2, H. Winwood-Smith3, J. L. Johansen3, J. F. Steffensen4, P. Domenici5

1. University of Manchester, Manchester, United Kingdom. 2. Tufts University, Medford, Massachusetts, United States. 3. University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas, United States. 4. University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark. 5. IAMC-CNR, Napoli, Italy.


Cohesive, synchronised motion is a common trait observed in group-living organisms. Synchronised movements, including accelerations and turns, are utilised to confuse, and thus evade, predators. In particular, the biomechanics and physiology of drag-based pectoral fin swimmers show discrete peaks and troughs in their acceleration corresponding to the onset of the power stroke, and the end of the return stroke respectively. Therefore, for a school of drag-based swimmers to move in a truly cohesive manner, the timing of each individual's power stroke must be perfectly in-phase. Here we examine whether individuals within a school synchronise their fin beats. Thirty wild-caught tubesnout (Aulorhynchus flavidus) were split into ten schools and recorded swimming at speeds of 4.5cms-1 and 9.7cms-1. The frame corresponding to the onset of each power stroke was recorded for each member of the school and plotted against the fin beat cycle of the focal fish, before being analysed using circular statistics to quantify the degree of synchronicity between individuals. We show school member's fin-beats to occur non-uniformly throughout the fin-beat cycle of the focal fish, suggesting conspecifics to modulate an individual's swimming kinematics and physiology within the school. The results from the study will further our understanding of schooling kinematics and swimming physiology in fish with synchronised group movements.

Where applicable, experiments conform with Society ethical requirements