Date of Award

Spring 2017

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science



First Advisor

Kent Dunlap

Second Advisor

Daniel Blackburn

Third Advisor

Michael O'Donnell


Previous studies have determined that the stress of predation inhibits brain cell proliferation in two species of weakly electric fish, including, Apteronotus leptorhynchus. In this thesis, three experiments examined how predator stimuli and social interaction affect brain cell proliferation and spatial learning in A. leptorhynchus. The three questions that were explored were: 1) Is the decrease in brain cell proliferation seen after tail amputation in weakly electric fish due to the actual predation injury event or the subsequent regenerative process of their tail? 2) Does social interaction influence the effect of predator stimuli on brain cell proliferation? 3) Do predator stimuli in the form of chasing affect the spatial learning ability of the fish? In the first experiment the action of amputating the tail of the fish caused a drastic significant decrease in brain cell proliferation as compared to the fish allowed long-term recovery (17-18d) and the intact fish. This indicates that the actual predation injury event causes the decrease in cell proliferation, not the regenerative process of the tail. In the second experiment social interaction mitigated the negative effects of stress on brain cell proliferation. Finally in the third experiment the decrease in brain cell proliferation associated with chasing had no apparent effect on the spatial learning behavior of the fish.


Senior thesis completed at Trinity College for the degree of Bachelor of Science in Biology.