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Schools make fish smarter

Sticklebacks make wiser choices in groups of three or more

12:44pm, November 13, 2008

New research on decision making in fish shows that the bigger the school, the higher the chance the group makes the right choice, scientists report online November 13 in Current Biology.

Trusting group decisions is a cornerstone of modern human society. Trial juries, Wikipedia and even American Idol are based on trust in consensus decision making. And underwater in the stickleback fish world, things aren’t so different.

Instead of choosing presidents or favorite singers, one species of stickleback fish, Gasterosteus aculeatus, has a more pressing concern — picking the right fish to follow home. Based on earlier experiments, the study’s researchers had a pretty good idea about such stickleback preferences.

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