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Captivity-induced behaviour and spatial learning abilities in an enigmatic, aquifer-dwelling blind eel, Rakthamichthys digressus

Citation

Vasan, Tanvi et al. (2021), Captivity-induced behaviour and spatial learning abilities in an enigmatic, aquifer-dwelling blind eel, Rakthamichthys digressus, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.nzs7h44rr

Abstract

This dataset contains data from the exploratory behaviour and spatial learning experiments done. We investigated the impact of captive life on behaviour and learning abilities in an enigmatic, aquifer-dwelling blind eel, Rakthamichthys digressus. Of eight major behavioural traits related to exploration and activity in a novel arena, four were significantly altered by life in captivity. While the startle response upon introduction into the arena and overall swimming away from the walls increased after captivity, inactivity exhibited immediately after the startle and the reaction to an external disturbance decreased. We also observed behavioural syndromes between startle responses and horizontal wall following, and between overall activity and vertical wall following; however, these behavioural syndromes were not altered by maintenance in captivity. Interestingly, this blind-eel failed to learn a simple spatial task in a Y-maze apparatus. Captive-associated behavioural changes in R. digressus may influence their survival after reintroduction into natural habitats, and such changes must be taken into account while developing protocols for ex-situ conservation and subsequent release.