Disturbance cues facilitate associative learning of predators in a coral reef fish

Pollock, Michael S., Hoyle, Zoe, McCormick, Mark I., Chivers, Douglas P., and Ferrari, Maud C.O. (2021) Disturbance cues facilitate associative learning of predators in a coral reef fish. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 75 (11). 149.

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Aquatic prey can gauge predation risk using chemical information, including chemical alarm cues — released when prey are injured, disturbance cues — released when prey are threatened, or the odour of the predator itself. While a lot of work has focused on alarm cues, disturbance cues remained poorly studied in freshwater systems, and has been virtually omitted in marine ones. In the current study, we document the first evidence of disturbance cue use in a marine fish. Juvenile damselfish Pomacentrus nagasakiensis were exposed to cues from undisturbed or disturbed conspecifics, a water control (negative control) and conspecific alarm cues (positive control). Juveniles displayed increased antipredator responses when exposed to alarm cues and disturbed conspecifics, but not when exposed to undisturbed ones. In addition, we demonstrated that disturbance cues, just like alarm cues, could mediate learned predator recognition, a phenomenon undemonstrated in freshwater fishes. Given disturbance cues are thought to be comprised of nitrogenous waste, it has been hypothesised that the constant and dilute release of such products in the hypotonic freshwater environment results in a high level of ‘background chemical’ noise masking subsequent releases. Extending this hypothesis, we propose that in the marine environment, disturbance cues are more easily detected due to low background noise.

Item ID: 70017
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1432-0762
Keywords: Anti-predator behaviour, Chemical alarm cue, Disturbance cue, Predator–prey, Risk assessment
Copyright Information: © The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2021.
Funders: Australian Research Council (ARC)
Projects and Grants: ARC EI140100117, ARC DP170103372
Date Deposited: 08 Apr 2022 00:54
Downloads: Total: 1
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