Seminar: “Environmental determinants of social behavior in domestic and wild zebrafish” by Delia Shelton


“Environmental determinants of social behavior in domestic and wild zebrafish”

by Delia Shelton

 Date: 19 April 2021, Monday
Time: 20:00
Place: Zoom Meeting


Environmental change is occurring at unprecedented rates. Thus, there is a need to understand how environmental features impact multi-level organizations (e.g., individuals-groups-populations) to predict consequences and mitigate risk. I present the results of a series of field and laboratory studies that test the impact of physical environmental features (e.g., vegetation, water flow, pollution) on social behavior (e.g., cohesion, alignment), sensory systems of wild and domestic zebrafish (Danio rerio). In tightly integrated field and laboratory experiments, I show that density, group size, and waterflow, but not vegetation, interact to affect cohesion and polarization in groups of wild and domestic zebrafish. In laboratory studies, I show how a few contaminated individuals can have an inordinately large effect on the unexposed majority. We find the behavioral effects of contamination are hidden in the individual but revealed in the context of the group. The group effects of contamination are driven by attenuated vision and altered social networks of contaminated individuals. Finally, I will examine the use of zebrafish as models for understanding cadmium-induced behavioral disorders.

About the Speaker:

Dr. Delia Shelton is a NIH National Institute for Environmental Health and Safety postdoctoral fellow studying how environmental features, including contaminants affect the social lives of wild and domestic zebrafish. She graduated from Southwestern University with a BS in Animal Behavior and Spanish. After spending a year abroad conducting research at Universidad Nacional in Costa Rica and University of Ghana, Shelton received a teaching certificate from Prairie View A&M University. In 2016, Shelton completed a dual PhD in Psychological and Brain Sciences and Evolution Ecology and Behavior. Dr. Shelton coordinated the Charles H. Turner Program through the Animal Behavior Society. She serves as Technical lead for Visioglow, a NSF-supported, protected technology that helps finfish farmers become more efficient.