Social learning of predators in the dark: understanding the role of visual, chemical and mechanical information

Manassa, R.P., McCormick, M.I., Chivers, D.P., and Ferrari, M.C.O. (2013) Social learning of predators in the dark: understanding the role of visual, chemical and mechanical information. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B, Biological Sciences, 280 (1765). 20130720. pp. 1-8.

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Abstract

The ability of prey to observe and learn to recognize potential predators from the behaviour of nearby individuals can dramatically increase survival and, not surprisingly, is widespread across animal taxa. A range of sensory modalities are available for this learning, with visual and chemical cues being well-established modes of transmission in aquatic systems. The use of other sensory cues in mediating social learning in fishes, including mechano-sensory cues, remains unexplored. Here, we examine the role of different sensory cues in social learning of predator recognition, using juvenile damselfish (Amphiprion percula). Specifically, we show that a predator-naive observer can socially learn to recognize a novel predator when paired with a predator-experienced conspecific in total darkness. Furthermore, this study demonstrates that when threatened, individuals release chemical cues (known as disturbance cues) into the water. These cues induce an anti-predator response in nearby individuals; however, they do not facilitate learnt recognition of the predator. As such, another sensory modality, probably mechano-sensory in origin, is responsible for information transfer in the dark. This study highlights the diversity of sensory cues used by coral reef fishes in a social learning context.

Item ID: 28876
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1471-2954
Keywords: social learning, predator recognition, coral reef fishes, disturbance cues, visual cues
Funders: Australian Research Council (ARC)
Date Deposited: 21 Aug 2013 05:25
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060201 Behavioural Ecology @ 70%
06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl Marine Ichthyology) @ 30%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences @ 50%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9699 Other Environment > 969999 Environment not elsewhere classified @ 50%
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