Site fidelity and localised homing behaviour in three-spined sticklebacks (Gasterosteus aculeatus)

A.J.W. Ward, Richard James, A.D.M. Wilson, M.M. Webster

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (SciVal)


The ability of animals to disperse towards their original home range following displacement has been demonstrated in a number of species. However, little is known about the homing ability of three-spine sticklebacks (Gasterosteus aculeatus), an important model species in behavioural ecology. In addition, few studies have examined the role of social facilitation in relation to homing behaviour in fishes. We examined homing behaviour of sticklebacks displaced over distances of between 80 m and 160 m in land-drains with directional water flow. Fish were translocated from their original capture site, tagged and then released either in groups or solitarily. We performed recapture transects either one or two days later. Data provided by recaptured sticklebacks show that the fish dispersed in the direction of their original capture site. Although fish translocated downstream typically moved further than those translocated upstream, both dispersed towards their original capture site. There was no difference between fish released solitarily or in groups in their homing ability and indeed there was little evidence that fish translocated in groups remained together following their release. The homing ability of the fish was demonstrated by the finding that up to 80% of fish returned to their home ranges within two days of release over a distance equivalent to approximately 5000 body lengths of these small fish.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1689-1708
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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