Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Tessa Solomon-Lane

Reader 2

John Milton

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2020 Caitlyn Y Kwun


Social behavior is common and important for the functioning of many different species. In particular, social behavior is related to the ways that individuals use space: where individuals situate themselves within a space can be quite telling. Within the realm of social behavior and space use, the highly social cichlid species, Astatotilapia burtoni, is a particularly fascinating species to study because they exhibit highly complex behaviors related to space use, including territoriality. The goal of this thesis is to elucidate the impact of varying the physical environment on how juvenile A. burtoni use space in order to better understand the general mechanisms through which adults develop complex behaviors related to the ways they use space. In order to test this goal, an experiment was developed that aimed to better understand how the manipulation of the physical environment, the introduction of foreign structures in particular, might impact the ways that individuals choose to interact not only with the changed environment, but how these changes might impact the spatial dynamics between individual animals as well. We found that while there were no significant differences between conditions for the average pairwise distances among fish in a tank, averaged across time points, the fish preferred to situate themselves around the bounds of an introduced structure but not at the center of a tank. Furthermore, there was much variation in average pairwise distances among tanks for each condition. These data will contribute to research to determine if and how the physical environment has a salient role in the development of complex social behaviors related to space use in juvenile A. burtoni. Animals vary in their choice to inhabit certain spaces, but many of these reasons point to maximizing genetic fitness. Broadly, studying the ways that juvenile A. burtoni develop varying behaviors related to space use has the potential to shed important insights about the mechanisms underlying the development of behaviors related to space use in other animals, including humans.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.