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Fathead minnows,Pimephales promelas, acquire predator recognition when alarm substance is associated with the sight of unfamiliar fish

Authors
Journal
Animal Behaviour
0003-3472
Publisher
Elsevier
Publication Date
Volume
48
Issue
3
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1006/anbe.1994.1279

Abstract

Abstract Abstract. To determine whether fathead minnows can learn to recognize potential predators through releaser-induced recognition learning, predator-naive minnows were simultaneously exposed to a neutral visual stimulus, the sight of a northern pike, Esox lucius, or a goldfish, Carassius auratus , paired with either minnow alarm substance (Schreckstoff) or water. Two days after this initial conditioning trial the visual stimuli were presented alone and minnows previously conditioned with alarm substance exhibited an appropriate anti-predator response, while those conditioned with water did not. The conditioned minnows were tested approximately 2 months later and again the minnows that were previously conditioned with alarm substance showed an appropriate anti-predator response, while those conditioned with water did not. A comparison of the reaction of minnows conditioned to a natural predator (the pike) and those conditioned to a non-piscivorous exotic (the goldfish) revealed a similar response intensity when tested 2 days after the initial conditioning trial. However, approximately 2 months after the conditioning trial, the reaction of minnows conditioned to pike was stronger than that of minnows conditioned to goldfish, indicating that learning may be constrained to favour a response to the natural predator. Minnows that were initially conditioned to pike did not show an anti-predator response to goldfish nor did minnows that were conditioned to goldfish respond to pike, demonstrating that the learned response was specific to the species used in the conditioning trials and not to any large fish. These results extend the known benefits to alarm-signal receivers.

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