Ecology & Zoology

A male fish can size up potential rivals, and even rank them from strongest to weakest, simply by watching how they perform in territorial fights with other males, according to a new study by Stanford University scientists. The researchers say their discovery provides the first direct evidence that fish, like people, can use logical reasoning to figure out their place in the pecking order.

The study, published in the Jan. 25 edition of the journal Nature, is based on a unique experiment with cichlids (SIK-lids), small territorial fish from Africa. "In their natural habitat, male cichlids are constantly trying to ascend socially by beating each other up," said study co-author Russell D. Fernald, professor of biological sciences at Stanford.

Despite the icy cold and darkness, beneath the frozen surface of the sea in Antarctica thrives a rich and complex array of plants and animals. But what will happen to all those creatures if global warming reduces the ice-cover, as is predicted for coming decades?

UNSW marine ecologists Dr Emma Johnston and Graeme Clark have been working with the Australian Antarctic Division to survey marine communities along the striking coast of Wilkes Land, east Antarctica.


The stark beauty of Antarctica's ice hides a wealth of marine life. Copyright Graeme Clark UNSW.