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Data from: Imprinting can cause a maladaptive preference for infectious conspecifics


Stephenson, Jessica F.; Reynolds, Michael (2016), Data from: Imprinting can cause a maladaptive preference for infectious conspecifics, Dryad, Dataset,


Recognizing and associating with specific individuals, such as conspecifics or kin, brings many benefits. One mechanism underlying such recognition is imprinting: the long-term memory of cues encountered during development. Typically, juveniles imprint on cues of nearby individuals and may later associate with phenotypes matching their ‘recognition template’. However, phenotype matching could lead to maladaptive social decisions if, for instance, individuals imprint on the cues of conspecifics infected with directly transmitted diseases. To investigate the role of imprinting in the sensory ecology of disease transmission, we exposed juvenile guppies, Poecilia reticulata, to the cues of healthy conspecifics, or to those experiencing disease caused by the directly transmitted parasite Gyrodactylus turnbulli. In a dichotomous choice test, adult ‘disease-imprinted’ guppies preferred to associate with the chemical cues of G. turnbulli-infected conspecifics, whereas ‘healthy-imprinted’ guppies preferred to associate with cues of uninfected conspecifics. These responses were only observed when stimulus fish were in late infection, suggesting imprinted fish responded to cues of disease, but not of infection alone. We discuss how maladaptive imprinting may promote disease transmission in natural populations of a social host.

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