How smart are fish?

Integrating what scientists and fishers know


Thursday 27 October 2016, 18.30 – 20:30
Pathfoot Lecture Theatre, University of Stirling

A commonly-held view sees fish as robot-like animals with no intelligence and a 30 second memory, but as we will show, this is very far from the truth. Besides having a well-developed capacity for learning and a good memory when this is needed, fish perform many complex behaviours that in mammals would be deemed intelligent or “smart”. For example, fish make mental maps, use tools and developing traditions. The dissonance between popular image and reality arises because most people do not have the time or opportunity to discover just how complex fish behaviour is. However, recreational anglers spend a lot of time observing and interacting with fish, so in this session we will explore what they have to say about how smart fish are, drawing on published literature, on the experience of a life-long fisherman and, we hope, on the expertise of anglers in the audience. Our aim is to promote creative discussion between people with different perspectives and to highlight the value of the traditional knowledge that anglers possess and pass on to successive generations.

18:30 Felicity Huntingford

How smart are fish and why does this matter?

19:20 Andy Walker

Are domesticated trout less smart than wild one's? A fisherman's perspective.

Followed by open discussion

20.00-20.30 Refreshments

Attendance is free and there is no need to book, but for catering purposes please let us know at the following address if you plan to attend:


Universities of Stirling & Glasgow

Felicity Huntingford has worked on the behaviour of fish for more than 45 years, having a special interest in their social interactions and how they avoid predators. She hasserved as President of the Fisheries Society of the British Isles and of the World Council of Fisheries Societies and is the 2016 Buckland Professor of Fisheries.

Andy Walker

Andy Walker, who has always been interested in fish and fishing, worked at the Government Freshwater Laboratory, Pitlochry from 1963-2005. He is a former Scottish Champion trout fly fisherman, has fished around the world at various international fly- fishing championships, been on several international high-seas research cruises and trained as a diver to get an underwater perspective on fish behaviour. He was Buckland Professor in 2011.

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