, Volume 64, Issue 7, pp 1117-1123
Date: 16 Mar 2010

Risk level of chemical cues determines retention of recognition of new predators in Iberian green frog tadpoles

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In aquatic environments, many prey rely on chemosensory information from injured (alarm cues) or stressed conspecifics (disturbance cues) to assess predation risk. Alarm cues are considered as a sign of higher risk than disturbance cues. These cues could be used by prey to learn potential new predators. In this study, we tested whether Iberian green frog tadpoles (Pelophylax perezi) exhibited antipredator responses to alarm and disturbance cues of conspecifics and whether tadpoles could associate new predators with alarm or disturbance cues. Tadpoles reduced their activity in the presence of disturbance cues, but only weakly when compared with their response to alarm cues. Also, tadpoles learned to recognize new predators from association with alarm or disturbance cues. However, the period of retention of the learned association was shorter for disturbance than alarm cues. Our results indicate that tadpoles are able to modify their antipredatory behavior according to (1) the degree of risk implied by the experimental cues (2) their previous experience of chemical cues of the predator.

Communicated by: J. Christensen-Dalsgaard