Sigal Balshine

Sigal Balshine
McMaster University | McMaster · Department of Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour

PhD

About

210
Publications
36,307
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7,106
Citations
Additional affiliations
January 2000 - present
McMaster University
Position
  • Professor (Full)

Publications

Publications (210)
Article
Noise pollution has been steadily increasing in the ocean, negatively affecting aquatic ecosystems by causing both behavioural and physiological deficits for many marine animals, including fishes. To date, most research investigating the effects of noise on fishes has been conducted in controlled laboratory settings; however, these experimental con...
Article
Full-text available
The round goby (Neogobius melanostomus), native to the Black and Caspian Seas, is one of the most wide-ranging invasive fishes, having established in much of Europe and North America. In 2019, round goby were discovered to have colonized a central portion of the Rideau Canal, a 202 km historic waterway in Ontario, Canada. Round goby were found in l...
Article
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Conflict solving strategies can prevent fights from escalating and reduce the costs of aggressive encounters. Having the capacity to efficiently assess an opponent’s fighting abilities before fully committing to a fight is a useful social skill. Here, we conducted two experiments to investigate how a colony living, cichlid species, Neolamprologus c...
Article
Municipal wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) effluent is a substantial source of pollution in aquatic habitats that can impact organisms across multiple levels of biological organization. Even though wastewater effluent is discharged continuously all year long, its impacts across seasons, specifically during winter, have largely been neglected in ec...
Article
Treated effluent from municipal wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) is a major source of contamination that can impact population size, community structure, and biodiversity of aquatic organisms. However, because the majority of field research occurs during warmer periods of the year, the impacts of wastewater effluent on aquatic communities during...
Article
Animals that live in groups often form hierarchies in which an individual's behaviour and physiology varies based on their social rank. Occasionally, a subordinate can ascend into a dominant position and the ascending individual must make rapid behavioural and physiological adjustments to solidify their dominance. These periods of social transition...
Article
Full-text available
Individuals that live in groups experience different challenges based on their social rank and sex. Glucocorticoids have a well-established role in coordinating responses to challenges and glucocorticoid levels often vary between ranks and sexes. However, the neuroendocrine mechanisms regulating glucocorticoid dynamics in wild groups are poorly und...
Article
The number, duration and depth of social relationships that individuals maintain impact social cognition, but the connection between sociality and other aspects of cognition has hardly been explored. To date, the link between social living and intelligence has been mainly supported by studies on primates, and far fewer tests connecting sociality to...
Article
Fish populations and communities are monitored using a variety of sampling gears, each with their own inherent biases. Gear biases can arise from a number of factors, such as fish species characteristics (e.g., body shape/size, physiology, and behaviour), species habitat requirements, as well as the abiotic characteristics of sites sampled. Such fa...
Article
Full-text available
Despite the strong interest in connecting social complexity and cognitive ability, there remains considerable debate about how to best quantify both cognitive performance and social complexity. Measuring group and brain size are clearly not sufficient and recent attention has been placed on the use of rigorous, increasingly challenging cognitive ta...
Presentation
No PDF available ABSTRACT Anthropogenic noise pollution is an emerging global threat to fish populations. Among a suite of deleterious effects, noise can potentially impede reproductive success in some fishes by masking their mate advertisement vocalizations. Using the plainfin midshipman fish (Porichthys notatus), a marine toadfish that produces a...
Article
Anthropogenic noise pollution is an emerging global threat to fish populations. Among a suite of dele-terious effects, noise can potentially impede reproductive success in some fishes by masking their mate advertisement vocalizations. Using the plainfin midshipman fish, Porichthys notatus, a marine toadfish that produces a distinctive 'hum' during...
Chapter
Cichlid fishes are champion caregivers that protect, clean, aerate, and sometimes even feed their young. This tropical fish family’s extensive species radiation combined with great diversity in care habits make cichlids immensely useful models for studying the evolution of parental care. In this chapter, we review the diverse ways that care is prov...
Article
Many animals live in groups yet grouping tendencies and preferences for groups of different sizes vary considerably between individuals. This variation reflects, at least in part, differences in how individuals evaluate and perceive their physical surroundings and their social environment. While such differences are likely related to individual var...
Article
Full-text available
The global lockdown to mitigate COVID-19 pandemic health risks has altered human interactions with nature. Here, we report immediate impacts of changes in human activities on wildlife and environmental threats during the early lockdown months of 2020, based on 877 qualitative reports and 332 quantitative assessments from 89 different studies. Hundr...
Article
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With over 30,000 recognized species, fishes exhibit an extraordinary variety of morphological, behavioural, and life-history traits. The field of fish cognition has grown markedly with numerous studies on fish spatial navigation, numeracy, learning, decision-making, and even theory of mind. However, most cognitive research on fishes takes place in...
Article
Hypoxia (low oxygen) often occurs in aquatic ecosystems that receive effluent from municipal wastewater treatment plants (WWTP). The combination of hypoxia and WWTP effluent could impair fish health, because WWTP effluent contains multiple contaminants that could disrupt the physiological pathways fish use to cope with hypoxia, but the interactive...
Article
Full-text available
Our understanding of the hormonal mechanisms underlying parental care mainly stems from research on species with uniparental care. Far less is known about the physiological changes underlying motherhood and fatherhood in biparental caring species. Here, using two biparental caring cichlid species (Neolamprologus caudopunctatus and Neolamprologus pu...
Article
Males of some species possess extra reproductive organs called accessory glands which are outgrowths of the testes or sperm duct. These organs have a well-established role in reproduction; however, they also appear to have other important functions that are less understood. Here, we investigate the function of the highly complex accessory glands of...
Article
1. Parents providing care must sometimes choose between rearing locations that are most favourable for offspring versus those that are most favourable for them- selves. Here, we measured how both parental and offspring performance varied in nest sites distributed along an environmental gradient. 2. The plainfin midshipman fish Porichthys notatus n...
Article
Full-text available
Municipal wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) are a significant source of anthropogenic pollutants and are a serious environmental stressor in Laurentian Great Lakes ecosystems. In this study, we examined whether three freshwater fish species (bluegill sunfish Lepomis macrochirus, green sunfish Lepomis cyanellus, and round goby Neogobius melanostom...
Article
Individuals often respond to social disturbances by increasing prosociality, which can strengthen social bonds, buffer against stress, and promote overall group cohesion. Given their importance in mediating stress responses, glucocorticoids have received considerable attention as potential proximate regulators of prosocial behaviour during disturba...
Article
Municipal wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) effluents are a ubiquitous source of contamination whose impacts on fish and other aquatic organisms range across multiple levels of biological organization. Despite this, few studies have addressed the impacts of WWTP effluents on fish communities, especially during the winter—a season seldom studied. He...
Article
Cooperation is a highly complex social interaction that often requires coordination and communication between two individuals. Reciprocity is one explanation for how cooperation evolves and is maintained; help now will eventually be repaid in kind. For reciprocity to work, individuals must be able to differentiate between those who helped previousl...
Article
Full-text available
Colorful visual signals can provide receivers with valuable information about food, danger, and the quality of social partners. However, the value of the information that color provides varies depending on the situation, and color may even act as a sensory trap where signals that evolved under one context are exploited in another. Despite some eleg...
Article
Full-text available
It has been hypothesised that some specialised cognitive abilities may have evolved because of the challenges of living in complex social environments. Therefore, more-social species might be able to learn faster than less-social species. The aim of this study was to develop a learning framework to test how more-and less-social Lamprologine cichlid...
Article
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Fish established outside their native range often express various changes in external morphology, which may result in significant variation between individuals inhabiting different regions. In the current study we aim to explore differences in morphology among several populations of the round goby (Neogobius melanostomus), an invasive fish in Europ...
Article
Full-text available
Urbanization tends to increase water temperatures in streams and rivers and is hypothesized to be contributing to declines of many freshwater fishes. However, factors that influence individual variation in thermal tolerance, and how these may change seasonally, are not well understood. To address this knowledge gap, we studied redside dace Clinosto...
Article
Full-text available
Intra-group social stability is important for the long-term productivity and health of social organisms. We evaluated the effect of group size on group stability in the face of repeated social perturbations using a cooperatively breeding fish, Neolamprologus pulcher In a laboratory study, we compared both the social and physiological responses of i...
Article
Low tide events provide terrestrial predators with ephemeral, but predictable and abundant sources of prey. Understanding the relationships between the tidal cycles, prey availability, and predator abundances is vital to characterizing the ecological relationship between terrestrial predators and their marine prey. Here, we describe the foraging ta...
Article
Full-text available
Parents are expected to reduce offspring investment when confronted with reliable cues of compromised parentage, yet establishing which cues are reliable is an empirical challenge. Presenting a potential cuckolder to a breeding male is often used in experiments as an indirect cue of paternity loss. However, determining the reliability and hence the...
Article
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Interest in behavioural ecotoxicology is growing, partly due to technological and computational advances in recording behaviours but also because of improvements of detection capacity facilitating reporting effects at environmentally relevant concentrations. The peer-reviewed literature now contains studies investigating the effects of chemicals, i...
Article
Full-text available
Interest in behavioural ecotoxicology is growing, partly due to technological and computational advances in recording behaviours but also because of improvements of detection capacity facilitating reporting effects at environmentally relevant concentrations. The peer-reviewed literature now contains studies investigating the effects of chemicals, i...
Article
The decision of where to rear young is influenced by both the needs of offspring and the costs parents incur in certain rearing environments. Plainfin midshipman fish (Porichthys notatus) provide extended paternal care in rocky intertidal zones, where they experience regular bouts of aquatic hypoxia and air exposure during low-tide events. We inves...
Preprint
Full-text available
Intra-group social stability is important for the long-term productivity and health of social organisms. We evaluated the effect of group size on group stability in the face of repeated social perturbations using a cooperatively breeding fish, Neolamprologus pulcher . In a laboratory study, we compared both the social and physiological responses of...
Article
Full-text available
Wastewater from municipal, agricultural and industrial sources is a pervasive contaminant of aquatic environments worldwide. Most studies that have investigated the negative impacts of wastewater on organisms have taken place in a laboratory. Here, we tested whether fish behaviour is altered by exposure to environmentally relevant concentrations of...
Article
Alternative reproductive tactics (ARTs) can generate considerable within-species life history variation but are often overlooked. Here, we use the invasive round goby (Neogobius melanostomus) to address a number of ecological and evolutionary questions about ARTs. Making use of a 12-year, multisite Laurentian Great Lakes data set, we show that the...
Article
Full-text available
Living in groups affords individuals many benefits, including the opportunity to reduce stress. In mammals, such ‘social buffering’ of stress is mediated by affiliative relationships and production of the neuropeptide oxytocin, but whether these mechanisms facilitate social buffering across vertebrates remains an open question. Therefore, we evalua...
Article
Acting submissively may inhibit aggression and facilitate the termination of contests without further escalation. The need to minimize conflict is vital in highly social species where within-group interactions are frequent, and aggression can dampen group productivity. Within social groups, individual group members may modulate their use of submiss...
Article
Full-text available
The hypothalamic neuropeptides arginine vasopressin (AVP) and oxytocin (OT) modulate social behavior across a wide variety of species. However, the role of arginine vasotocin (AVT) and isotocin (IT, the teleost homologs of AVP and OT) in regulating biparental care especially in the context of monogamy is not well studied. Here, using high-performan...
Article
Full-text available
Parental care is costly, and theory suggests that caregivers should reduce parental investment or even stop caring altogether when the costs of caring are too high or the benefits too low. Brood cannibalism is one tactic by which parents can divert investment away from current offspring and towards potentially higher-quality future offspring, but t...
Article
In 2017, we demonstrated that transitions to cooperative breeding in Lamprologine cichlid fishes were not related to a species’ social mating system (Dey et al. 2017. Nature Ecology & Evolution, 1, 137). This contrasted previous evidence that monogamy (and a low degree of promiscuity) promoted transitions to cooperative breeding in other taxa. Rece...
Article
Although effluent from municipal wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) is a major stressor in receiving environments, relatively few studies have addressed how its discharge affects natural fish communities. Here, we assessed fish community composition over three years along a gradient of effluent exposure from two distinct WWTPs within an Internatio...
Article
Effluent from wastewater treatment plants (WWTP) contains a complex mixture of contaminants and is a major worldwide source of aquatic pollution. We examined the effects of exposure to treated effluent from a municipal WWTP on the metabolic physiology of bluegill sunfish (Lepomis macrochirus). We studied fish that were wild-caught or experimentally...
Article
Full-text available
Many animals use visual signals to indicate their aggressive intentions. While much research has focused on these signals as predictors of an individual's behavioural motivations, how these social signals are perceived by others and whether social rank influences the response to these signals remain poorly understood. Using the cooperatively breedi...
Article
Full-text available
In the version of this Article originally published, references were missing from the column “Source(s) for mating and parental care system data” in Supplementary Table 1. The following references have now been added to the relevant species: Brichard 1989 has been added to Chalinochromis popelini, Chalinochromis brichardi and Julidochromisdickfeldi...
Article
Full-text available
Male reproductive accessory glands play a number of important roles, including enhancing fertilization success in competitive contexts. Theory predicts that males experiencing greater sperm competition risk (i.e. those adopting the opportunistic tactic) should invest more in accessory glands and ejaculate. However, empirical data show the opposite...
Article
Full-text available
Nest site selection is a critical parental decision with profound fitness consequences, yet the physiological consequences of these decisions are rarely examined. Certain fishes and other aquatic organisms construct nests and provide parental care in the intertidal zone—an environment characterized by fluctuating water levels, which can exert inter...
Article
Using the plainfin midshipman fish Porichthys notatus, a species with alternative reproductive tactics (ARTs), we investigated how sperm maturation shapes sperm competitive abilities. We compared sperm performance and morphology before and after final sperm maturation by sampling sperm from the testes and stripped ejaculates of guarders and sneaker...
Article
Full-text available
In social groups, dominant animals are typically larger and have better access to resources than subordinates. When subordinates are given the opportunity to ascend to a dominant position, they will elevate their rates of growth to help secure dominance. However, the physiological mechanisms facilitating this increased growth have not been determin...
Article
The soundscape is an integral habitat component for acoustically-sensitive animals. In marine environments noise pollution from anthropogenic activities is pervasive, potentially leading to negative consequences for marine animals. To understand the impacts of noise pollution, one must first understand the soundscape in which these animals live. Us...
Article
Full-text available
Chemical contaminants (e.g. metals, pesticides, pharmaceuticals) are changing ecosystems via effects on wildlife. Indeed, recent work explicitly performed under environmentally realistic conditions reveals that chemical contaminants can have both direct and indirect effects at multiple levels of organization by influencing animal behaviour. Altered...
Article
Full-text available
Round goby Neogobius melanostomus sagittal (saccular) otolith morphology was compared between males of the two alternative reproductive tactics (termed guarder and sneaker males) and between males captured from sites of high and low contamination. Otolith size increased with fish size and also displayed an ontogenetic shift in shape, becoming relat...
Article
Full-text available
Animals living in groups often form social hierarchies, with characteristic behaviours and physiologies associated with rank. However, when social opportunities arise and a subordinate ascends into a dominant position, quick adjustments are necessary to secure this position. Such periods of social transition are typically associated with elevated g...
Article
Full-text available
Although the consumption of one's own offspring is often viewed as maladaptive, under some circumstances this behaviour can be a beneficial way to terminate parental care. When the costs of providing care are extremely high or the benefits of performing care are especially low, parents will sometimes cannibalize their own young, which is called fil...
Article
Full-text available
A male's reproductive success often depends on both his phenotypic quality and the quality of the resources he controls. An important and longstanding challenge for evolutionary biologists has been to disentangle these 2 often-correlated factors. Here, we present a large multiyear, multipopulation field study along with complementary laboratory exp...
Article
Animals are bombarded with information about their environment and must select and interpret the relevant cues to make behavioral adjustments critical to survival. How animals integrate and balance the many signals they receive about their environment is rarely assessed. We investigated how signals from the social and physical environment interact...
Article
Municipal wastewater effluent is a major source of aquatic pollution and has potential to impact cellular energy metabolism. However, it is poorly understood whether wastewater exposure impacts whole-animal metabolism and whether this can be accommodated with adjustments in respiratory physiology. We caged bluegill sunfish (Lepomis macrochirus) for...
Article
Full-text available
Population growth has led to increased global discharges of wastewater. Contaminants that are not fully removed during wastewater treatment, such as pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs), may negatively affect aquatic ecosystems. PPCPs can bioaccumulate causing adverse health effects and behavioural changes in exposed fish. To assess t...
Article
Full-text available
Pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) have been found in wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) effluents and their recipient watersheds. To assess the potential of WWTP effluents to alter fish behaviour, we caged male goldfish (Carassius auratus) for 21-days at three sites along a contamination gradient downstream from a WWTP which dischar...