Background level of risk and the survival of predator-naive prey: can neophobia compensate for predator naivety in juvenile coral reef fishes?

Ferrari, Maud C.O., McCormick, Mark I., Meekan, Mark G., and Chivers, Douglas P. (2015) Background level of risk and the survival of predator-naive prey: can neophobia compensate for predator naivety in juvenile coral reef fishes? Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B, Biological Sciences, 282 (1799). pp. 1-5.

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Abstract

Neophobia-the generalized fear response to novel stimuli-provides the first potential strategy that predator-naive prey may use to survive initial predator encounters. This phenotype appears to be highly plastic and present in individuals experiencing high-risk environments, but rarer in those experiencing low-risk environments. Despite the appeal of this strategy as a 'solution' for prey naivety, we lack evidence that this strategy provides any fitness benefit to prey. Here, we compare the relative effect of environmental risk (high versus low) and predator-recognition training (predator-naive versus predator-experienced individuals) on the survival of juvenile fish in the wild. We found that juveniles raised in high-risk conditions survived better than those raised in low-risk conditions, providing the first empirical evidence that environmental risk, in the absence of any predator-specific information, affects the way naive prey survive in a novel environment. Both risk level and experience affected survival; however, the two factors did not interact, indicating that the information provided by both factors did not interfere or enhance each other. From a mechanistic viewpoint, this indicates that the combination of the two factors may increase the intensity, and hence efficacy, of prey evasion strategies, or that both factors provide qualitatively separate benefits that would result in an additive survival success.

Item ID: 41977
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1471-2954
Keywords: neophobia, predation risk, predator recognition, experience, naivety, survival
Funders: Australian Research Council (ARC)
Date Deposited: 08 Dec 2015 18:39
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl Marine Ichthyology) @ 50%
06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060201 Behavioural Ecology @ 50%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960808 Marine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 50%
97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences @ 50%
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