acta ethologica

, Volume 22, Issue 2, pp 135–144 | Cite as

Qingbo (Spinibarbus sinensis) personalities and their effect on shoaling behavior

  • Zhong-Hua Tang
  • Shi-Jian FuEmail author
Original Paper


Group-level behavior has important fitness consequences for group-living fish, which might be affected by the personalities of group members. However, the role of group personality on group behavior has seldom been systematically investigated. To test the effect of the personalities of group members on shoaling behavior and the underlying mechanisms, we investigated the activity and boldness personality traits in qingbo (Spinibarbus sinensis) and grouped qingbo shoals into high personality score, low personality score, and randomly selected control groups and measured the shoal-level behavior traits. Compared with the reactive shoal (low activity and boldness), the proactive (high activity and boldness) shoal showed high activity and increased synchronization of speed, suggesting that the shoal-level behavior was affected by the personalities of the shoal members. Interestingly, the variables in the control shoal were midway between those in the high- and low-activity shoals, suggesting that the average activity score might be the most important factor for group-level behavior (average-determined mechanism). However, when qingbo were divided into high- and low-boldness shoals, the control shoal variables were similar to those of the low-boldness shoals, suggesting that a minority of low-boldness individuals might have a dominant effect on shoal-level behavior (minority-determined mechanism). Cohesion showed a more complicated pattern than the other variables, which might be because the conformity of personalities among shoal members had a profound effect on cohesion. This finding suggests that large interindividual differences in personality play a profound effect on group-level behavior, and different mechanisms might provide the precondition for shoals to exhibit great shoal-level diversity. These findings might have important ecological relevance for the survival of group-living fish in habitats with food resource and predation intensity fluctuations.


Personality Activity Exploration Boldness Consistent interindividual difference 



Percent time moving


Total distance moved


PTM of the four shoal members


The interindividual distance


The synchronization of speed


The intraclass correlation coefficient


Funding information

This study was funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation of China (NSFC 31670418).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants performed by any of the authors.

Informed consent

This article does not contain any studies with human participants.

Supplementary material

10211_2019_321_MOESM1_ESM.xlsx (32 kb)
ESM 1 (XLSX 32 kb)


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Copyright information

© ISPA, CRL 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratory of Evolutionary Physiology and Behavior, Chongqing Key Laboratory of Animal BiologyChongqing Normal UniversityChongqingChina

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