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Releasing Stimuli for Antipredator Behaviour in the Common Toad Bufo b uFo (L.)

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The aim of the present investigation was (i) to study the behaviour of the Common Toad Bufo bufo (L.) in response to potential natural predators and (ii) to analyze appropriate enemy key stimuli in dummy experiments. (i) Potential predators of Common Toads live on the ground (hedgehogs, giant ants, ringsnakeks), in the air (owls, buzzards, fly Lucilia bufonivora), in the water (leeches). (ii) During confrontations between toad and potential predators it turned out that the key stimulus "enemy" for the toad is not a unique pattern. Key features of predators consist of a variety of stimulus parameters, such as (1) movement velocity, (2) direction of movement, (3) direction of stimulus background contrast, (4) stimulus area, (5) configuration of a moving stimulus. (iii) Particular configurational parameters of a moving visual stimulus play a dominant role in the prey-predator relation of toad and ringsnake. The characteristics of the natural moving snake releasing stiff-legged avoidance posture in the toad can be represented by a relatively simple dummy.

Affiliations: 1: (Neuro-ethology and Biocybernetic Laboratories, University of Kassel, F.R.G.

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