Repeatability and reliability of exploratory behavior in proactive and reactive zebrafish, Danio rerio

Matthew R. Baker, Alexander C. Goodman, Jonathan B. Santo, Ryan Y. Wong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


Behavioral responses to novel situations often vary and can belong to a suite of correlated behaviors. Characteristic behaviors of different personality types (e.g. stress coping styles) are generally consistent across contexts and time. Here, we compare the repeatability and reliability of exploratory behaviors between zebrafish strains selectively bred to display contrasting behavioral responses to stressors that represent the proactive-reactive axis. Specifically, we measure exploratory behavior of individual fish in an open field test over five weeks. We quantified the stationary time, average swimming speed and time spent by a fish in the center area. We found a number of strain differences for each behavioral measure. Stationary time was the most repeatable and reliable measure for assessing proactive-reactive behavioral differences. Reactive zebrafish generally showed the highest reliability and repeatability of exploratory behavior compared to proactive zebrafish and a separate wild caught strain. Given the increased interest in the evolutionary consequences and proximate mechanisms of consistent individual differences, it will be important to continue to investigate how different selective pressures may influence expression of stress coping styles and their effects on the consistency of an animal’s behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number12114
JournalScientific reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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