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Social learning of predators in the dark: Understanding the role of visual, chemical and mechanical information

journal contribution
posted on 01.11.2018, 00:00 by Rachel ManassaRachel Manassa, MI McCormick, DP Chivers, MCO Ferrari
The ability of prey to observe and learn to recognize potential predators from the behaviour of nearby individuals can dramatically increase survival and, not surprisingly, is widespread across animal taxa. A range of sensory modalities are available for this learning, with visual and chemical cues being well-established modes of transmission in aquatic systems. The use of other sensory cues in mediating social learning in fishes, including mechano-sensory cues, remains unexplored. Here, we examine the role of different sensory cues in social learning of predator recognition, using juvenile damselfish (Amphiprion percula). Specifically, we show that a predator-naive observer can socially learn to recognize a novel predator when paired with a predator-experienced conspecific in total darkness. Furthermore, this study demonstrates that when threatened, individuals release chemical cues (known as disturbance cues) into the water. These cues induce an anti-predator response in nearby individuals; however, they do not facilitate learnt recognition of the predator. As such, another sensory modality, probably mechano-sensory in origin, is responsible for information transfer in the dark. This study highlights the diversity of sensory cues used by coral reef fishes in a social learning context.

Funding

Category 1 - Australian Competitive Grants (this includes ARC, NHMRC)

History

Volume

280

Issue

1765

Start Page

1

End Page

8

Number of Pages

8

eISSN

1471-2954

ISSN

0962-8452

Publisher

The Royal Society Publishing

Peer Reviewed

Yes

Open Access

No

External Author Affiliations

James Cook University; University of Saskatchewan

Era Eligible

Yes

Journal

Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences