Parents know best: transgenerational predator recognition through parental effects

Atherton, Jennifer A., and McCormick, Mark I. (2020) Parents know best: transgenerational predator recognition through parental effects. PeerJ, 8. e9340.

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In highly biodiverse systems, such as coral reefs, prey species are faced with predatory threats from numerous species. Recognition of predators can be innate, or learned, and can help increase the chance of survival. Research suggests that parental exposure to increased predatory threats can affect the development, behaviour, and ultimately, success of their offspring. Breeding pairs of damselfish (Acanthochromis polyacanthus) were subjected to one of three olfactory and visual treatments (predator, herbivore, or control), and their developing embryos were subsequently exposed to five different chemosensory cues. Offspring of parents assigned to the predator treatment exhibited a mean increase in heart rate two times greater than that of offspring from parents in herbivore or control treatments. This increased reaction to a parentally known predator odour suggests that predator-treated parents passed down relevant threat information to their offspring, via parental effects. This is the first time transgenerational recognition of a specific predator has been confirmed in any species. This phenomenon could influence predator-induced mortality rates and enable populations to adaptively respond to fluctuations in predator composition and environmental changes.

Item ID: 63772
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 2167-8359
Keywords: Alarm odours, Embryos, Olfaction, Parental effects, Predator recognition, Antipredator behaviour
Copyright Information: © Copyright 2020 Atherton and McCormick. Distributed under Creative Commons CC-BY 4.0
Funders: Australian Research Council (ARC) Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies (CE)
Projects and Grants: ARC CE140100020
Research Data:
Date Deposited: 08 Jul 2020 07:33
FoR Codes: 31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3104 Evolutionary biology > 310403 Biological adaptation @ 100%
SEO Codes: 18 ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT > 1805 Marine systems and management > 180504 Marine biodiversity @ 100%
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