, 93:431 | Cite as

The effects of different predator species on antipredator behavior in the Trinidadian guppy, Poecilia reticulata

  • M. S. Botham
  • C. J. Kerfoot
  • V. Louca
  • J. Krause
Original article


Different types of predators often elicit different antipredator responses in a common type of prey. Alternatively, some prey species may adopt a general response, which provides limited protection from many different types of predator. The Trinidadian guppy, Poecilia reticulata, is faced with a wide range of different predators throughout its range and is known to display varying levels of antipredator behavior depending on the predator assemblage. Pike cichlids, Crenicichla frenata, are regarded as the primary aquatic guppy predator in streams in the northern mountain range in Trinidad. As such, they are seen to be responsible for many of the differences in morphology, life history traits, and behavior between guppy populations from areas with few predators and those from areas with many pike cichlids. In this study we investigated how guppies responded when faced with different predator species using three common aquatic predators. We exposed shoals of ten guppies to one out of four treatments: no predator (control), pike cichlid, acara cichlid (Aequidens pulcher), and wolf fish (Hoplias malabaricus); and we made behavioral observations on both focal individuals and the shoal as a whole. Guppies showed significantly greater levels of predator inspection and shoaling behavior, foraged less, spent more time in the surface water, and stayed in significantly larger shoals when faced with pike cichlids than in other treatments. We discuss these results in the context of multiple predator effects.


Antipredator behaviour Guppies Crenicichla Aequidens Hoplias Multiple predators 



We thank Catherine Hathaway and Audie Hazenburg for help in the laboratory and Ronnie Hernandez for his generous hospitality and help with equipment and facilities during our stay at Simla Research Station, Trinidad. We also thank Darren Croft, Ashley Ward, the editor, and three anonymous referees for their valuable comments on the manuscript. All experiments complied with the current laws of Trinidad and Tobago. M. B. was funded by a University of Leeds scholarship.


  1. Bistoni M, Haro JG, Gutierrez M (1995) Feeding of Hoplias malabaricus in the wetlands of Dulce River (Cordoba, Argentina). Hydrobiologia 316:103–107CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Botham MS (2005) Prey choice behaviour in three major Trinidadian piscivores. Ph.D. thesis, University of Leeds, LeedsGoogle Scholar
  3. Botham MS, Kerfoot CJ, Louca V, Krause J (2005) Predator choice in the field; grouping guppies, Poecilia reticulata, receive more attacks. Behav Ecol SociobiolGoogle Scholar
  4. Botham MS, Krause J (2005a) The effects of competitor odour on predator choice for grouped prey in blue acara cichlids, Aequidens pulcher (Gill, 1858). Behaviour 142:441–453CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Botham MS, Krause J (2005b) Shoals receive more attacks from the wolf-fish (Hoplias malabaricus Bloch, 1974). Ethology 111:881–890CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Brown GE, Godin J-GJ (1999) Chemical alarm signals in wild Trinidadian guppies (Poecilia reticulata). Can J Zool 77:562–570CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Coleman RM, Kutty V (2001) The predator of guppies on Trinidad is the pike cichlid Crenicichla frenata, not Crenicichla alta: a caution about working with cichlids. J Aquaric Aquat Sci 9:89–92Google Scholar
  8. Croft DP, Botham MS, Krause J (2004) Is sexual segregation in the guppy, Poecilia reticulata, consistent with the predation risk hypothesis? Environ Biol Fishes 71:127–133Google Scholar
  9. Croft DP, James R, Thomas POR, Hathaway C, Mawdsley D, Laland KN, Krause J (2006) Social structure and co-operative interactions in a wild population of guppies (Poecilia reticulata). Behav Ecol Sociobiol 59:644–650CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Croft DP, James R, Ward AJW, Botham MS, Mawdsley D, Krause J (2005) Assortative interactions and social networks in fish. Oecologia 143:211–219PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Crowder LB, Squires DD, Rice JA (1997) Nonadditive effects of terrestrial and aquatic predators on juvenile estuarine fish. Ecology 78:1796–1804Google Scholar
  12. de Almeida VLL, Hahn NS, Vazzoler A (1997) Feeding patterns in five predatory fishes of the high Parana River floodplain (PR, Brazil). Ecol Freshw Fish 6:123–133CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Dugatkin LA, Godin JGJ (1992) Predator inspection, shoaling and foraging under predation hazard in the Trinidadian guppy, Poecilia reticulata. Environ Biol Fishes 34:265–276CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Eklov P, Werner EE (2000) Multiple predator effects on size-dependent behavior and mortality of two species of anuran larvae. Oikos 88:250–258CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Fairchild MP, Holomuzki JR (2005) Multiple predator effects on microdistributions, survival, and drift of stream hydropsychid caddisflies. J North Am Benthol Soc 24:101–112CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Fraser D, Gilliam J (1987) Feeding under predation hazard: response of the guppy and Hart’s rivulus from sites with contrasting predation hazard. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 21:203–209CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Fraser DF, Gilliam JF, Akkara JT, Albanese BW, Snider SB (2004) Night feeding by guppies under predator release: effects on growth and daytime courtship. Ecology 85:312–319CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Fraser DF, Gilliam JF, MacGowan MP, Arcaro CM, Guillozet PH (1999) Habitat quality in a hostile river corridor. Ecology 80:597–607Google Scholar
  19. Gilliam JF, Fraser DF (2001) Movement in corridors: enhancement by predation threat, disturbance, and habitat structure. Ecology 82:258–273Google Scholar
  20. Godin J-G, Davis S (1995) Who dares, benefits—predator approach behaviour in the guppy (Poecilia reticulata) deters predator pursuit. Proc R Soc Lond B 259:193–200CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Helfman GS (1989) Threat-sensitive predator avoidance in damselfish–trumpetfish interactions. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 24:47–58CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Kelley JL, Magurran AE (2003) Effects of relaxed predation pressure on visual predator recognition in the guppy. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 54:225–232CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Kishida O, Nishimura K (2005) Multiple inducible defences against multiple predators in the anuran tadpole, Rana pirica. Evol Ecol Res 7:619–631Google Scholar
  24. Krause J, Godin JGJ (1995) Predator preferences for attacking particular prey group sizes—consequences for predator hunting success and prey predation risk. Anim Behav 50:465–473CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Krause J, Ruxton G, Rubenstein D (1998) Is there always an influence of shoal size on predator hunting success? J Fish Biol 52:494–501CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Krause J, Ruxton GD (2002) Living in groups. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  27. Lima S (1992) Life in a multipredator environment—some considerations for antipredatory vigilance. Ann Zool Fenn 29:217–226Google Scholar
  28. Lima S, Dill L (1990) Behavioural decisions under the risk of predation: a review and prospectus. Can J Zool 68:619–640CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Lima SL, Bednekoff PA (1999) Temporal variation in danger drives antipredator behavior: the predation risk allocation hypothesis. Am Nat 153:649–659CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Magurran A (2005) Evolutionary ecology. The Trinidadian guppy. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  31. Magurran A, Seghers B (1990) Risk sensitive courtship in the guppy (Poecilia reticulata). Behaviour 112:194–210CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Magurran A, Seghers B (1991) Variation in schooling and aggression amongst guppy populations in Trinidad. Behaviour 118:214–234CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Martin TH, Wright RA, Crowder LB (1989) Non-additive impact of blue crabs and spot on their prey assemblages. Ecology 70:1935–1942CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Mattingly H, Butler M (1994) Laboratory predation on the Trinidadian guppy—implications for the size-selective predation hypothesis and guppy life-history evolution. Oikos 69:54–64CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. McIntosh AR, Peckarsky BL (1999) Criteria determining behavioural responses to multiple predators by a stream mayfly. Oikos 85:554–564CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Merigoux S, Ponton D (1998) Body shape, diet and ontogenetic diet shifts in young fish of the Sinnamary River, French Guiana, South America. J Fish Biol 52:556–569Google Scholar
  37. Neill SR, Cullen JM (1974) Experiments on whether schooling by their prey affects the hunting behaviour of cephalopods and fish predators. J Zool Lond 172:549–569CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Owings DH, Coss RG, McKernon D, Rowe MP, Arrowood PC (2001) Snake-directed antipredator behavior of rock squirrels (Spermophilus variegatus): Population differences and snake-species discrimination. Behaviour 138:575–595CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Pitcher T, Parrish J (1993) Functions of shoaling behaviour in teleosts. In: Pitcher T (ed) Behaviour of teleost fishes. Chapman & Hall, London, pp 363–439Google Scholar
  40. Reznick D, Endler JA (1982) The impact of predation on life-history evolution in Trinidadian guppies (Poecilia reticulata). Evolution 36:160–177CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Seghers BH (1973) An analysis of geographic variation in the antipredator adaptations of the guppy, Poecilia reticulata. Ph.D. thesis, University of British Columbia, VancouverGoogle Scholar
  42. Seghers B, Magurran A (1995) Population differences in the schooling behaviour of the Trinidad guppy, Poecilia reticulata—adaptation or constraint. Can J Zool 73:1100–1105CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Siegel S, Castellan NJ (1988) Nonparametric statistics for the behavioural sciences. McGraw-Hill, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  44. Soluk DA (1993) Multiple predator effects—predicting combined functional-response of stream fish and invertebrate predators. Ecology 74:219–225CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Stapley J (2004) Do mountain log skinks (Pseudemoia entrecasteauxii) modify their behaviour in the presence of two predators? Behav Ecol Sociobiol 56:185–189CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Templeton CN, Shriner WM (2004) Multiple selection pressures influence Trinidadian guppy (Poecilia reticulata) antipredator behavior. Behav Ecol 15:673–678CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Templeton CN, Greene E, Davis K (2005) Allometry of alarm calls: black-capped chickadees encode information about predator size. Science 308:1934–1937PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Teplitsky C, Plenet S, Lena JP, Mermet N, Malet E, Joly P (2005) Escape behaviour and ultimate causes of specific induced defences in an anuran tadpole. J Evol Biol 18:180–190PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Turner AM, Fetterolf SA, Bernot RJ (1999) Predator identity and consumer behavior: differential effects of fish and crayfish on the habitat use of a freshwater snail. Oecologia 118:242–247CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Vance-Chalcraft HD, Soluk DA, Ozburn N (2004) Is prey predation risk influenced more by increasing predator density or predator species richness in stream enclosures? Oecologia 139:117–122PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Vilhunen S, Hirvonen H, Laakkonen MVM (2005) Less is more: social learning of predator recognition requires a low demonstrator to observer ratio in Arctic charr (Salvelinus alpinus). Behav Ecol Sociobiol 57:275–282CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Zhao X, Chivers D (2005) Response of juvenile goldfish (Carrasius auratus) to chemical alarm cues: relationship between response intensity, response duration and the level of predation risk. In: Mason RT, LeMaster M, Muller-Schwarze D (eds) Chemical signals in vertebrates, vol. 10. Plenum, New York, pp 312–327Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. S. Botham
    • 1
  • C. J. Kerfoot
    • 1
  • V. Louca
    • 1
  • J. Krause
    • 1
  1. 1.School of BiologyUniversity of LeedsLeedsUK

Personalised recommendations