The antipredator behaviour of prey organisms is shaped by a series of threat-sensitive trade-offs between the benefits associated with successful predator avoidance and a suite of other fitness-related behaviours such as foraging, mating and territorial defence. Recent research has shown that the overall intensity of antipredator response and the pattern of threat-sensitive trade-offs are influenced by current conditions, including variability in predation risk over a period of days to weeks. In this study, we tested the hypothesis that long-term predation pressure will likewise have shaped the nature of the threat-sensitive antipredator behaviour of wild-caught Trinidadian guppies (Poecilia reticulata). Female guppies were collected from two populations that have evolved under high- and low-predation pressure, respectively, in the Aripo River, Northern Mountain Range, Trinidad. Under laboratory conditions, we exposed shoals of three guppies to varying concentrations of conspecific damage-released chemical alarm cues. Lower Aripo (high-predation) guppies exhibited the strongest antipredator response when exposed to the highest alarm cue concentration and a graded decline in response intensity with decreasing concentrations of alarm cue. Upper Aripo (low-predation) guppies, however, exhibited a nongraded (hypersensitive) response pattern. Our results suggest that long-term predation pressure shapes not only the overall intensity of antipredator responses of Trinidadian guppies but also their threat-sensitive behavioural response patterns.

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Keywords Chemical alarm cue, Guppy, Long-term predation risk, Population differences, Predator avoidance, Threat sensitivity
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Journal Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology
Brown, G.E. (Grant E.), MacNaughton, C.J. (Camille J.), Elvidge, C.K. (Chris K.), Ramnarine, I. (Indar), & Godin, J.-G.J. (2009). Provenance and threat-sensitive predator avoidance patterns in wild-caught Trinidadian guppies. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 63(5), 699–706. doi:10.1007/s00265-008-0703-4