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Postgraduate research project

The calming effect of group living in social fishes

Fully funded (UK and international)
Type of degree
Doctor of Philosophy
Entry requirements
2:1 honours degree View full entry requirements
Faculty graduate school
Faculty of Environmental and Life Sciences
Closing date

About the project

Group living is common across the animal kingdom, ranging from the tiniest insects to the largest mammals. The ubiquity of sociality suggests that it imparts several benefits to individual group members. However, the evolutionary drivers of social behaviour within and among animal species remain obscure. One advantage of group living may come in the form of energy savings. Group-living individuals may reduce energy needs by sharing the costs associated with daily activities, such as movement and finding food. Social individuals may also benefit from the “calming effect”, in which energy use drops as the group can take advantage of having “many eyes” to scan for predators and reduce everyone’s investment in predator avoidance. Recent work in a social fish species found that socializing can reduce metabolic rate by 25% on average when compared to social isolation [1], with this calming effect persisting even under projected future ocean acidification [2]. This project will take a comparative approach to social fishes to identify what characteristics predispose a fish species to be “calmer” in a social context and determine whether environmental traits alter the magnitude of this energetic benefit.

For full project details visit the Inspire project page.


  • Lauren Nadler (University of Southampton)
  • Clive Trueman (University of Southampton)
  • Shaun Killen (University of Glasgow)