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Antipredator behavior and cue recognition by multiple Everglades prey to a novel cichlid predator

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Novel predator introductions are thought to have a high impact on native prey, especially in freshwater systems. Prey may fail to recognize predators as a threat, or show inappropriate or ineffective responses. The ability of prey to recognize and respond appropriately to novel predators may depend on the prey's use of general or specific cues to detect predation threats. We used laboratory experiments to examine the ability of three native Everglades prey species (Eastern mosquitofish, flagfish and riverine grass shrimp) to respond to the presence, as well as to the chemical and visual cues of a native predator (warmouth) and a recently-introduced non-native predator (African jewelfish). We used prey from populations that had not previously encountered jewelfish. Despite this novelty, the native warmouth and nonnative jewelfish had overall similar predatory effects, except on mosquitofish, which suffered higher warmouth predation. When predators were present, the three prey taxa showed consistent and strong responses to the non-native jewelfish, which were similar in magnitude to the responses exhibited to the native warmouth. When cues were presented, fish prey responded largely to chemical cues, while shrimp showed no response to either chemical or visual cues. Overall, responses by mosquitofish and flagfish to chemical cues indicated low differentiation among cue types, with similar responses to general and specific cues. The fact that antipredator behaviours were similar toward native and non-native predators suggests that the susceptibility to a novel fish predator may be similar to that of native fishes, and prey may overcome predator novelty, at least when predators are confamilial to other common and longer-established non-native threats.

Affiliations: 1: Oceanographic Center, Nova Southeastern University, 8000 North Ocean Drive, Dania Beach, FL 33004, USA;, Email:; 2: Earth and Environment Department, Southeastern Environmental Research Center, Florida International University, Miami, FL 33199, USA


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