Antipredator response to injury-released chemical alarm cues by convict cichlid young before and after independence from parental protection

in Behaviour
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Abstract

Injury-released chemical alarm cues are released when predators attack aquatic prey. These cues are generally released only in this context and as such, conspecific alarm cues form an important component of risk assessment. Minnows (Ostariophysi, Cyprinidae) possess a well-developed chemical alarm system. However, minnows do not respond to conspecific injury-released alarm cues until 30 to 50 d post-hatch. Non-ostariophysan fishes respond to chemical alarm cues with antipredator behavior but the ontogeny of this behavior is not known for any species. Here, we test convict cichlids (Acanthopterygii: Cichlidae), a species known to respond to alarm cues as adults. Convict cichlid parents care for their eggs and defend their developing young from predators for 4 to 6 weeks. In our experiment, we tested the ontogeny of antipredator response to chemical alarm cues in young convict cichlids well within and just beyond the size range typically defended by parents. We found that small convict cichlid young of a size typically defended by parents engaged in area avoidance and grouping behaviors in response to alarm cues and did so as effectively as young that would typically be independent of parental care.

Antipredator response to injury-released chemical alarm cues by convict cichlid young before and after independence from parental protection

in Behaviour

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