Active in the sac: damselfish embryos use innate recognition of odours to learn predation risk before hatching

Atherton, Jennifer Ann, and McCormick, Mark Ian (2015) Active in the sac: damselfish embryos use innate recognition of odours to learn predation risk before hatching. Animal Behaviour, 103. pp. 1-6.

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Predation-induced mortality rates of aquatic species are much higher in larvae than in adults. Consequently, the ability of an organism to recognize relevant predators as early as possible could increase its chance of survival, especially in areas with high predator diversity. Heart rates of embryonic cinnamon clownfish, Amphiprion melanopus, were monitored to assess their reaction to damage-released conspecific alarm cues. These cues were then combined with a predator odour in a conditioning trial to establish whether the embryos were capable of learning a predatory threat. Results showed that A. melanopus embryos were not only able to detect and react to conspecific chemical alarm cues, but were also capable of using this information to learn about predation risk before they hatched. This recognition could lead to a number of antipredator behavioural adaptations, such as modifications of habitat choice at settlement, and could affect development and behaviour in postembryonic individuals, all of which may increase their chance of survival.

Item ID: 42018
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1095-8282
Keywords: antipredator behaviour, damselfish, embryos, innate recognition, learning, olfaction
Funders: ARC CoE for Coral Reef Studies
Projects and Grants: ARC CE0140100020
Date Deposited: 08 Dec 2015 15:44
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: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences @ 50%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960808 Marine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 50%
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