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Consistent long-term behavioural traits are linked to morphological defences in common carp (Cyprinus carpio)

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Individual prey often exhibit consistent behavioural differences in responses to risk. Here, we assess whether such behavioural consistency is linked to morphological changes that are known to result in differences in vulnerability to predators. Some fishes increase their depth-to-length ratio when under increased risk of predation, thereby reducing their risk to gape-limited predators. However, the development of these defences is limited by available resources. We asked whether behavioural tendencies associated with shelter seeking and activity are linked to differences in growth patterns. Common carp classified as ‘active/non-sheltering’ or ‘passive/sheltering’ based on their movement patterns and shelter use, showed consistency in behaviour over a 10-month period with active/non-sheltering fish developing a greater depth to length ratio than passive/sheltering fish. The effectiveness of anti-predator strategies in animals is an integrative function of both behaviour and morphology. Our works highlights a fascinating link between behavioural consistency and the development of adaptive morphologies.

Affiliations: 1: aDepartment of Biology, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, SK, Canada S7N 5E2; 2: bDepartment of Biomedical Sciences, WCVM, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, SK, Canada S7W 5B4


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