Environmental Biology of Fishes

, Volume 27, Issue 2, pp 147–152 | Cite as

Distance-to-cover and the escape decisions of an African cichlid fish, Melanochromis chipokae

  • Lawrence M. Dill


The risk to a prey individual in an encounter with a predator increases as the distance to protective cover increases. Prey should therefore initiate their flight to cover at longer distances from an approaching predator (i.e., sooner) and/or flee at greater velocities, as the distance to cover increases. These predictions were tested with an African cichlid fish, Melanochromis chipokae presented with a looming stimulus simulating an attacking predator. The fish varied their flight initiation distance as predicted, but there was no significant effect of distance-to-cover on escape velocity. Nevertheless, the cichlids appeared to choose a combination of flight initiation distance and escape velocity which ensured they reached cover with a constant temporal ‘margin of safety’.

Key words

Predation risk Flight initiation distance Escape velocity Refuge cover 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lawrence M. Dill
    • 1
  1. 1.Behavioural Ecology Research Group, Department of Biological SciencesSimon Fraser UniversityBurnabyCanada

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