Effects of relaxed predation pressure on visual predator recognition in the guppy

Jennifer Kelley, A.E. Magurran

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    62 Citations (Scopus)


    Many prey species have a genetic predisposition to recognise and respond to predators and can fine-tune their anti-predator behaviour following appropriate experience. Although the Trinidadian guppy (Poecilia reticulata) has become a model species for the investigation of adaptive behaviour, the extent to which experience mediates predator recognition remains unclear. In this study, we examined the effects of relaxed predation pressure on patterns of anti-predator behaviour in populations differing in evolutionary history. The anti-predator behaviour of wild- and laboratory-born guppies from high- and low-predation localities in Trinidad were compared using three models resembling Crenicichla alta, a dangerous guppy predator, Aequidens pulcher, a less dangerous piscivore, and a snake. Snakes are not known to prey on guppies in Trinidad. Specifically, the following predictions were tested: (1) wild caught fish from the high-predation localities (where guppies co-occur with C. alta and A. pulcher) would respond to the three models according to their perceived level of threat, whereas guppies from the low-predation site would show a reduced response to all of the predator models; (2) high-predation laboratory-reared fish would display a reduced but qualitatively similar response to their wild counterparts; and (3) there would be no behavioural differences between wild- and laboratory-reared low-predation fish. In accordance with these predictions, the results revealed that wild fish originating from high-predation sites responded more strongly to the models than fish from low-predation sites. When reared in the laboratory, guppies from the high-predation population showed a reduced response compared to their wild-caught counterparts, but there was no difference in the behaviour of wild- and laboratory-reared low-predation fish. Model type affected predator inspection behaviour but not schooling tendency, and both wild- and laboratory-reared guppies were more wary of the fish models than the snake. These results suggest that early experience differentially mediates the anti-predator responses of fish from high-risk localities.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)225-232
    JournalBehavioral Ecology and Sociobiology
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 2003


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