Patrick McGrath - Analysis of social behavior in Lake Malawi cichlids using automated behavior phenotying
From Katie Gentilello
In the wild, behaviors are often expressed over long time periods in complex and dynamic environments, and many behaviors include direct interaction with the environment itself. However, measuring behavior in naturalistic settings is difficult, and this has limited progress in understanding the mechanisms underlying many naturally evolved behaviors that are critical for survival and reproduction. Here we describe an automated system for measuring long-term bower construction behaviors in Lake Malawi cichlid fishes, in which males use their mouths to sculpt sand into large species-specific structures for courtship and mating. We integrate two orthogonal methods, depth sensing and action recognition, to simultaneously track the developing bower structure and the thousands of individual sand manipulation behaviors performed throughout construction. As an example of the utility of this system, we will demonstrate how it can be used with single nuclei RNAseq to identify cellular populations activated during bower building behavior.