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Chemosensory Recognition of Northern Pike (Esox Lucius) By Brook Stickleback (Culaea Inconstans): Population Differences and the Influence of Predator Diet

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Chemical recognition of familiar or unfamiliar predators may allow prey to detect predators under conditions in which vision is of limited utility. In laboratory tests, brook stickleback (Culaea inconstans) from a pike-allopatric population responded to chemical stimuli from northern pike (Esox lucius) with an appropriate anti-predator behaviour (decreased activity) only when the stimulus was obtained from pike that had eaten conspecific stickleback. In contrast, stickleback from a pike-sympatric population exhibited a fright response to chemical stimuli from pike that had eaten only heterospecific fish prey. Our study is the first to demonstrate chemosensory recognition of predators by a stickleback (family Gasterosteidae). Our results further indicate that predator diet influences chemosensory recognition of unfamiliar predators and that individuals from a predator-sympatric population can recognize predators even when the predator's recent diet has not included conspecific fish prey.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Biology, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan S7N OWO, Canada


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