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Predator recognition of chemical cues in crayfish: diet and experience influence the ability to detect predation threats

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Aquatic prey often alter their morphology, physiology, and/or behaviour when presented with predatory chemical cues which are heavily influenced by the diet of the predator. We tested the roles that diet and prey familiarity with predators play in the ability of prey to recognize predator threats. Odours from two fish, bass and cichlid fed a vegetarian, protein, heterospecific, and a conspecific diet, were collected and presented to virile crayfish in a choice arena. Our results show that crayfish altered their behaviour in the presence of odours containing conspecific, as opposed to heterospecific diets, but only from familiar predators. A reduced anti-predator response was measured with odours from an unfamiliar predator fed conspecific crayfish. Therefore, crayfish may be able to determine different threat levels based on the different dietary cues from a potential predator, but only when the prey have familiarity with the predators.

Affiliations: 1: aLaboratory for Sensory Ecology, Department of Biological Sciences, Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, OH 43403, USA ; 2: bUniversity of Michigan Biological Station, 9133 Biological Road, Pellston, MI, 49769, USA ; 3: cJ.P. Scott Center for Neuroscience, Mind, and Behavior, Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, OH 43403, USA

*Corresponding author’s e-mail address:

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