The effect of group size on the speed of decision making depends on compromise and predation risk across populations in the guppy Poecilia reticulata

Amy Wade, Indar W. Ramnarine, Christos C Ioannou*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)


While larger groups tend to be better at making decisions, very few studies have explored how ecological variables, including predation pressure, shape how group size affects decision making. Our cross-population study of wild-caught guppies (Poecilia reticulata) shows that leading individuals from larger groups made faster decisions when deciding to leave the start area and reach the junction of a Y-maze, which allows for compromise over timing. However, at the junction of the Y when the fish needed to make a mutually exclusive decision that does not allow for compromise, there was no effect of group size in high predation fish on decision speed. In fish from low predation habitats, speed was fastest at the intermediate group size with a decline in speed in the largest group size. These results challenge the view that decision making always improves with group size and shows this effect depends on ecological and decision-making conditions.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 29 Sep 2020


  • Group decision-making
  • swarm intelligence
  • collective intelligence
  • group performance
  • pool of competence
  • cross-population
  • optimal group size
  • Y-maze

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