May 29, 2012

Future commercial fisheries to use robo-fish provocateurs?

An important study was recently published about the behavior of salt water groundfishes. At  least, about one groundfish - the feisty but not-so-mighty threespine stickleback!  But it surely applies to all schooling fish.

The study "Quorum decision-making facilitates information transfer in fish shoals" reveals that schooling fishes operate by quorum sensing-based decisionmaking, and further, that artificial fishes placed within a school can be used as agent provocateurs to trigger quorums that cause the entire school to change direction - such as, perhaps one day, right into into a fishermen's net.

How does this work? In the course of each day, each member of a fish school acquires both  "private information" (the things her or she personally finds or encounters) and "social information" (things learned by keeping tabs on the actions of others in the school)

Quorum sensing means that individuals in that school will respond when they see a threshold number of  similar individuals performing a certain behavior.  Monkey see/monkey do.
A single fish or two may be influenced by a single provocateur;  it took two or more artificial fishes expressing the same "Hey! Food is THIS way" or "It isn't safe here, follow me!" behaviors to provoke a new quorum amongst the many members of that school to all head for the food or to all head away from a threat to a safer place.

So only a very small number of the members of a fish school needs to be influenced by the provocateur for a split second, for the group behavior of the whole school to be modified, whether it be the school's general collective direction, or to respond to a threat or a food source.

In the future, perhaps commercial fishermen will use such  agent provocateur robo-fish to incite whole schools or pollock or mackerel to hurry into stop-seines along a coast or into purse seines further offshore.

Details in these two articles: Quorum Decision-Making in Foraging Fish Shoals  and  Quorum decision-making facilitates information transfer in fish shoals

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

nice posting.. thanks for sharing.