Ontogenetic differences in chemical alarm cue production determine antipredator responses and learned predator recognition

Mitchell, Matthew D., and McCormick, Mark I. (2013) Ontogenetic differences in chemical alarm cue production determine antipredator responses and learned predator recognition. Behavioural Ecology and Sociobiology, 67 (7). pp. 1123-1129.

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How individuals assess, respond and subsequently learn from alarm cues is crucial to their survival and future fitness. Yet this information is not constant through time; many individuals are exposed to different predators throughout their life as they outgrow some predators or move to habitats containing different predators. To maximise overall fitness, individuals should discriminate between different cues and respond and learn from only those that are relevant to their current ontogenetic stage. We tested whether juvenile spiny chromis, Acanthochromis polyacanthus, could distinguish between chemical alarm cues from conspecific donors of different ontogenetic stages and whether the cue ontogenetic stage of the cue donor affected the efficacy of learning about predators. Juveniles displayed a significant antipredator response when conditioned with juvenile chemical alarm cues paired with predator odour but failed to respond when conditioned with predator odour paired with either adult alarm cues or with saltwater. Subsequently, individuals only recognised the predator odour alone as a threat when conditioned with juvenile alarm cues. This demonstrates that prey may be highly specific in how they use information from conspecific alarm cues, selectively responding to and learning from only those cues that are relevant to their developmental stage.

Item ID: 29397
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1432-0762
Keywords: predator recognition, learning, ontogeny, threat sensitivity, coral reefs, fish
Funders: Australian Research Council (ARC)
Date Deposited: 20 Sep 2013 01:49
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060202 Community Ecology (excl Invasive Species Ecology) @ 20%
06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060201 Behavioural Ecology @ 80%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960808 Marine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 100%
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