The analysis of saccadic decision-making tasks with two or four alternatives has shown what appears to be a general hallmark of decision-making: adding more alternatives decreases speed and accuracy. In their everyday lives, however, animals often select among many more than two options and under heavy constraints on speed and accuracy. Here we analyse a rapid decision made by hunting archerfish. As in the classical saccadic tasks the fish must first estimate sensory information: based on an estimate of horizontal speed, azimuthal direction and initial height of falling prey the fish must quickly select a suitable fast-start to arrive at the right place at the right time. Our results suggest that the fast-start decisions of archerfish are surprisingly robust with respect to adding a further decision-relevant variable. We show that the fish can appropriately account for vertical speed as an independent further variable – but the need to do so does not affect speed or accuracy of the decisions. Our findings suggest novel ways by which rapid and yet complex decisions could be balanced against increasing complexity.
- Received December 23, 2015.
- Accepted June 29, 2016.
- © 2016. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd