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This study investigated whether spatial learning ability and cue use of gobies (Gobiidae) from two contrasting habitats differed in a spatial task. Gobies were collected from the spatially complex rock pools and dynamic, homogenous sandy shores. Fishes were trained to locate a shelter under the simulated threat of predation and it was determined whether they used local or extra-maze (global) and geometric cues to do so. It was hypothesized that fishes from rock pools would outperform fishes from sandy shores in their ability to relocate shelter and the two groups would differ in their cue use. It was found that rock-pool species learnt the location of the correct shelter much faster, made fewer errors and used a combination of all available cues to locate the shelter, while sand species relied significantly more on extra-maze and geometric cues for orientation. The results reported here support the hypothesis that fishes living in complex habitats have enhanced capacity for spatial learning and are more likely to rely on local landmarks as directional cues than fishes living in mundane habitats where local cues such as visual landmarks are unreliable.


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