Chemically mediated predator inspection behaviour in the absence of predator visual cues by a characin fish
Animals commonly approach (i.e. 'inspect') potential predators. Glowlight tetras, Hemigrammus erythrozonus, have previously been shown to inspect the combined chemical and visual cues originating from novel predators and to modify their inspection (approach) behaviour depending upon the predator's diet. We conducted two experiments to determine whether tetras would inspect the chemical cues of injured prey or the dietary cues of a novel predator in the absence of any visual cues. Shoals of glowlight tetras were exposed to either distilled water (control) or the skin extract of swordtail (lacking ostariophysan alarm pheromones) or the skin extract of tetra (with alarm pheromones). There was no significant difference in the frequency of predator inspection behaviour towards swordtail or tetra skin extract compared to the distilled water controls. In the second experiment, we exposed shoals of tetras to either distilled water or the odour of Jack Dempsey cichlids, Cichlasoma octofasciatum, which had been food deprived, or fed a diet of swordtails or tetras. There was no significant difference in the frequency of predator inspection behaviour towards the odour of the starved cichlids and the odour of the fed cichlids in either of the two diet treatments. However, when tetras were exposed to the odour of cichlids fed tetras, they took significantly longer to initiate an inspection visit, remained further from the source of the chemical cues and inspected in smaller groups, compared with the odour of a starved cichlid or a cichlid fed swordtails. These data strongly suggest that tetras will inspect chemical cues alone, but only if the cue contains information about the predator. (C) The Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour.
Brown, G.E. (Grant E.), Paige, J.A. (Jessica A.), & Godin, J.-G.J. (2000). Chemically mediated predator inspection behaviour in the absence of predator visual cues by a characin fish. Animal Behaviour, 60(3), 315–321. doi:10.1006/anbe.2000.1496