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Behavioural responses to alarm cues by free-ranging rainbow darters (Etheostoma caeruleum)

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image of Behaviour

Responses of fishes to chemical alarm cues have been well-documented in the laboratory, but relatively few taxa have been tested under free-ranging conditions in natural habitats. While snorkeling in a stream, we exposed rainbow darters (Etheostoma caeruleum) to skin extracts from conspecifics (alarm cue), skin extracts from heterospecifics (no alarm cue) and a blank control. Darters showed a significantly longer latency to move ('freezing') in the presence of the alarm cue relative to the other two stimuli. These results indicate that rainbow darters can detect chemical alarm cues under natural conditions and respond with appropriate antipredator behaviour.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Biology, Missouri State University, 901 S. National, Springfield, MO 65897, USA; 2: Department of Biology, Missouri State University, 901 S. National, Springfield, MO 65897, USA;, Email:


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