Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 56, Issue 2, pp 164–170

Predator inspection behaviour in three-spined sticklebacks (Gasterosteus aculeatus): body size, local predation pressure and cooperation

  • Craig A. Walling
  • Nick Dawnay
  • Anahita J. N. Kazem
  • Jonathan Wright
Original Article

DOI: 10.1007/s00265-004-0763-z

Cite this article as:
Walling, C.A., Dawnay, N., Kazem, A.J.N. et al. Behav Ecol Sociobiol (2004) 56: 164. doi:10.1007/s00265-004-0763-z

Abstract

The apparently maladaptive tendency of fish to approach and inspect potential predators has been explained in terms of useful information gathering or as a signal to the predator that it has been seen. We examined this behaviour in 16 populations of wild-caught stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus) from ponds with and without predatory perch (Perca fluviatilis). Three large and three small individuals per population were each exposed to three model predators differing in realism. A final cooperative treatment entailed pairing subjects with a second individual from the same population, but of the alternative size class, during predator presentation. As might be expected, predator inspection behaviour was much greater in the predator-sympatric populations, and only these fish increased their level of inspection as the models became incrementally more realistic. This suggests that reductions occur in the level of costly inspection behaviour in populations without predators. Subject body size had no effect on inspection effort, which suggests a limited role for experience (we assumed larger fish to be older than smaller fish), at least over the relative age differences utilized. However, small predator-sympatric fish were the only subjects to increase inspection significantly when in a cooperative context, perhaps reflecting the inherent value of a relatively larger partner in this context. These results confirm that levels of predator inspection are both population- and situation-dependent, suggesting a trade-off in the potential costs and benefits of this behaviour.

Keywords

Predator-naïvePredator-sympatricSize asymmetryAnti-predationGasterosteus aculeatus

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Craig A. Walling
    • 1
    • 2
  • Nick Dawnay
    • 1
  • Anahita J. N. Kazem
    • 1
    • 3
  • Jonathan Wright
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.School of Biological SciencesUniversity of Wales BangorBangorWales
  2. 2.Division of Environmental and Evolutionary BiologyUniversity of GlasgowGlasgow Scotland
  3. 3.Institute of Biology, NINUTrondheimNorway