World’s first virtual reality computer game for fish reveals how predators select their victims

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World’s first virtual reality computer game for fish reveals how predators select their victims



SCIENTISTS have created the world’s first computer game for fish, to show how underwater predators select their victims.
British researchers used the technology to show that it’s more likely to be game over for fish at the front of the shoal because predators target them first.
Frank Greenaway Sticklebacks took part in the virtual reality game where they attacked virtual prey
Scientists developed a fish-friendly virtual reality game which projected computer programmed prey onto an aquarium filled with real predators.
The game, which tricked the real fish into attacking virtual prey, found those at the front of the shoal are targeted first.
The study by Bristol and Oxford University academics examined the behaviour of the fish and assessed which individuals within the virtual shoal were more vulnerable to attack.
Virtual prey mimicked the characteristics of species such as Daphnia and were so realistic the real fish inside the aquarium couldn’t resist attacking.’TARGETED ON SOCIAL POSITION’
Behavioural scientists have long suspected that group leaders are more vulnerable to attack from predators but this is the first experiment to confirm the belief.
Lead researcher and lecturer at Bristol’s School of Biological Sciences, Dr Christos Ioannou, said: “The key advantage of virtual prey is that their appearance and behaviour can be precisely programmed.
“This helps overcome the limitations of previous observational studies, in which differences in the position of prey within a group are impossible to separate from other features which might influence an individual’s risk of being attacked.”
The study was published on Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.
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Dr Ioannou found targeted individuals in the shoal were attacked depending on their social position.
Predators targeted the prey leading from the front while the followers in safer positions towards the centre of the shoal were spared.
Dr Ioannou added: “This work highlights the striking insights into animal behaviour can be gained from experiments combining real animals with virtual reality.”
ioannougroup.com Lead researcher and lecturer at Bristol’s School of Biological Sciences, Dr Christos Ioannou
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