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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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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