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Differential retention of predator recognition by juvenile rainbow trout

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There is a wealth of studies that have examined the way in which prey animals acquire information about their predators, yet the literature on how long prey retain this information is almost non-existent. Here, we investigated if the memory window associated with learned recognition of predators by juvenile rainbow trout was fixed or variable. Specifically, we tested whether the retention of predator recognition was influenced by the risk level associated with the predator. We conditioned juvenile trout to recognize predatory pumpkinseed sunfish posing a high, low or no threat and tested their response to the predator after either 1 or 8 days, and found that trout responded to the odour of the pumpkinseed longer if the risk associated with the predator was higher. We discuss the way in which memory associated with predator risk information provides fundamentally different costs/benefits trade-offs than those associated with foraging.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Environmental Science and Policy, University of California, Davis, CA, 95616 USA; 2: Department of Biology, Concordia University, Montreal, QC, Canada H4B 1R6; 3: Department of Biology, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, SK, Canada S7N 5E2

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