Back to School: Can antipredator behaviour in guppies be enhanced through social learning

J.L. Kelley, Jon Evans, I.W. Ramnarine, A.E. Magurran

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    55 Citations (Scopus)


    The ability to recognize and respond to predators often has a learned component, but few studies have examined the role of social learning in the development of antipredator behaviour. We investigated whether wild-caught juvenile guppies, Poecilia reticulata, from a low-predation river in Trinidad increase their response towards a novel predator through association with conspecifics from a high-predation river. We assigned fish to one of three treatment groups: (1) repeated exposure to a model accompanied by high-predation conspecifics; (2) repeated exposure to a model with low-predation conspecifics; (3) a control group in which focal fish interacted with high-predation fish in the absence of the model. Guppies trained with high-predation, but not low-predation, 'demonstrators' significantly improved their antipredator behaviour (spent more time schooling and inspected the model from further away). The guppies assigned to the control group showed no significant improvement in antipredator behaviour after the training period, suggesting that association with experienced conspecifics in the absence of the model is not sufficient to enhance the antipredator behaviour of naive fish. We conclude that guppies can improve their antipredator behaviour through association with more experienced conspecifics in the presence of visual cues simulating high predation risk. (C) 2003 Published by Elsevier Science Ltd on behalf of The Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)655-662
    JournalAnimal Behaviour
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 2003

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