Well-informed foraging: damage-released chemical cues of injured prey signal quality and size to predators

Lönnstedt, Oona M., McCormick, Mark I., and Chivers, Douglas P. (2012) Well-informed foraging: damage-released chemical cues of injured prey signal quality and size to predators. Oecologia, 168 (3). pp. 651-658.

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Predators use a variety of information sources to locate potential prey, and likewise prey animals use numerous sources of information to detect and avoid becoming the meal of a potential predator. In freshwater environments, chemosensory cues often play a crucial role in such predator/prey interactions. The importance of chemosensory information to teleost fish in marine environments is not well understood. Here, we tested whether coral reef fish predators are attracted to damage-released chemical cues from already wounded prey in order to find patches of prey and minimize their own costs of obtaining food. Furthermore, we tested if these chemical cues would convey information about status of the prey. Using y-maze experiments, we found that predatory dottybacks, Pseudochromis fuscus, were more attracted to skin extracts of damselfish, Pomacentrus amboinensis, prey that were in good condition compared to prey in poor body condition. Moreover, in both the laboratory and field, we found that predators could differentiate between skin extracts from prey based on prey size, showing a greater attraction to extracts made from prey that were the appropriate size to consume. This suggests that predators are not attracted to any general substance released from an injured prey fish instead being capable of detecting and distinguishing relatively small differences in the chemical composition of the skin of their prey. These results have implications for understanding predator foraging strategies and highlights that chemical cues play a complex role in predator–prey interactions in marine fish.

Item ID: 20233
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1432-1939
Keywords: predator foraging cues, chemical alarm cue, secondary predators, coral reef fish, kleptoparasitism
Date Deposited: 23 Feb 2012 23:44
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0501 Ecological Applications > 050101 Ecological Impacts of Climate Change @ 50%
06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl Marine Ichthyology) @ 50%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences @ 50%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9603 Climate and Climate Change > 960399 Climate and Climate Change not elsewhere classified @ 50%
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