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Social learning improves survivorship at a life-history transition
journal contributionposted on 2018-09-20, 00:00 authored by Rachel ManassaRachel Manassa, MI McCormick
During settlement, one of the main threats faced by individuals relates to their ability to detect and avoid predators. Information on predator identities can be gained either through direct experience or from the observation and/or interaction with others, a process known as social learning. In this form of predator recognition, less experienced individuals learn from experienced members within the social group, without having to directly interact with a predator. In this study, we examined the role of social learning in predator recognition in relation to the survival beneWts for the damselWsh, Pomacentrus wardi, during their settlement transition. SpeciWcally, our experiments aimed to determine if P. wardi are capable of transmitting the recognition of the odour of a predator, Pseudochromis fuscus, to conspeciWcs. The experiment also examined whether there was a diVerence in the rate of survival between individuals that directly learnt the predator odour and those which acquired the information through social learning compared to naïve individuals. Results show that naïve P. wardi are able to learn a predator’s identity from experienced individuals via social learning. Furthermore, survival between individuals that directly learnt the predator’s identity and those that learnt through social learning did not signiWcantly diVer, with Wsh from both treatments surviving at least Wve times better than controls. These results demonstrate that experience may play a vital role in determining the outcome of predator–prey interactions, highlighting that social learning improves the ability of prey to avoid and/or escape predation at a life-history transition.