Juvenile coral reef fish alter escape responses when exposed to changes in background and acute risk levels

Ramasamy, Ryan A., Allan, Bridie J.M., McCormick, Mark I., Chivers, Douglas P., Mitchell, Matthew D., and Ferrari, Maud C.O. (2017) Juvenile coral reef fish alter escape responses when exposed to changes in background and acute risk levels. Animal Behaviour, 134. pp. 15-22.

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Abstract

The response of prey to predation threats is often plastic and can vary with the individual's perceived level of threat. To determine whether prey escape responses can be modulated by background levels of risk or short-term acute risk, we maintained juvenile damselfish, Acanthochromis polyacanthus, under high-or low-risk background conditions for several days and then exposed them to an acute risk (high-risk alarm cues or a low-risk saltwater control) minutes prior to startling them with a mechanical disturbance. Fish responded in one of two ways: they either made a C-start escape response or backed away from the threat. While exposure to either background high risk or acute high risk increased the proportion of C-starters, surprisingly the frequency of C-starters decreased when background high risk and acute risk types were combined. Exposure to an acute high-risk cue increased the escape performance for both types of escape responses. However, when the acute high-risk cue occurred within high-risk background conditions, this only increased the performance of C-start escape responses. Non-C-starters reacted similarly in both background risk conditions. Background risk and acute risk acted in a simple additive manner, as seen by the lack of interaction between the two factors. Results showed that escape responses are amplified as the level of perceived risk increases.

Item ID: 51941
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1095-8282
Keywords: acute risk, background risk, coral reef fish, escape response, plasticity, predator-prey interactions
Funders: ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, Natural Sciences and Engineering Council of Canada
Date Deposited: 10 Jan 2018 07:39
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0501 Ecological Applications > 050102 Ecosystem Function @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960808 Marine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 100%
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