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Juvenile convict cichlids (Archocentrus nigrofasciatus) allocate foraging and antipredator behaviour in response to temporal variation in predation risk

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We examined the influence of temporal variation in predation risk on the foraging and antipredator behaviour of juvenile convict cichlids (Archocentrus nigrofasciatus). We exposed fish to one of four treatment regimes: 100% or 20% concentrations of conspecific alarm cue, given once or three times per day, for a period of three days. On the fourth day they were exposed to either 100% conspecific alarm cue or a control of 100% swordtail (Xiphophorus helleri) skin extract. There was no significant effect of concentration of alarm cue, fish previously exposed to the same frequency of risk responded in a similar manner regardless of the concentration of alarm cue previously experienced. Fish that were exposed to predation risk three times per day exhibited moderate intensities of antipredator behaviour during periods of risk and allocated significantly more foraging to periods of safety compared to those exposed to alarm cue once per day. These results demonstrate that temporal variation can influence the trade off between antipredator behaviour and foraging and that prey can use subthreshold cues to assess temporal variability in predation risk.


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