, Volume 34, Issue 3, pp 265-276

Predator inspection, shoaling and foraging under predation hazard in the Trinidadian guppy,Poecilia reticulata

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Synopsis

Guppies,Poecilia reticulata, living in stream pools in Trinidad, West Indies, approached a potential fish predator (a cichlid fish model) in a tentative, saltatory manner, mainly as singletons or in pairs. Such behavior is referred to as predator inspection behavior. Inspectors approached the trunk and tail of the predator model more frequently, more closely and in larger groups than they approached the predator's head, which is presumably the most dangerous area around the predator. However, guppies were not observed in significantly larger shoals in the stream when the predator model was present. In a stream enclosure, guppies inspected the predator model more frequently when it was stationary compared to when it was moving, and made closer inspections to the posterior regions of the predator than to its head. Therefore, the guppies apparently regarded the predator model as a potential threat and modified their behavior accordingly when inspecting it. Guppies exhibited a lower feeding rate in the presence of the predator, suggesting a trade-off between foraging gains and safety against predation. Our results further suggest that predator inspection behavior may account for some of this reduction in foraging. These findings are discussed in the context of the benefits and costs of predator inspection behavior.