When is it good to be shy? Experimental evaluation of predation of juvenile salmon by riparian wildlife

  • Kouta MiyamotoEmail author
  • Hitoshi Araki
Primary Research Paper


Animal behaviors are often well adapted to their environments. Predation risk avoidance is one of them. However, the fitness effects of behavioral variation associated with predation risks are poorly understood for aquatic organisms. In this study, we evaluated the effects of traits (origin and body size) and behaviors (regular defensive and post-stimulus behaviors) of masu salmon [Oncorhynchus masou masou (Brevoort, 1856)] on their predation risk. We first conducted aquarium experiments examining the behaviors of fish, followed by an evaluation of their survival after release in a semi-natural stream. After 56 days of the stream test, 48.3% of the released fish were lost. On-site camera trapping identified an ambush predator, the grey heron (Ardea cinerea Linnaeus, 1758), as the most frequently visiting predator. By individually matching the fish behaviors in the aquarium test with their survival in the stream, we found that the most critical determinant for the survival of fish in a semi-natural stream was their regular defensive behavior (i.e., hiding behavior when they were NOT exposed to a mimicked bird attack), rather than their post-stimulus behavior. Our results indicate that regular defensive behavior can be most beneficial to prey survival, at least when they are faced with ambush predators.


Predator–prey interaction Predation risk Local environment Personality Grey heron Masu salmon 



We would like to thank Kouji Mutou, Hidefumi Nakamura, and Masaharu Murakami of the National Research Institute of Fisheries Science for their help with the caring for the fish. Many thanks to Fumihisa Takahashi of the Tohoku National Fisheries Research Institute, Kenjiro Sato of the Sea of Japan Salmon Propagation Association, and Kentaro Morita of the Hokkaido National Fisheries Research Institute for providing useful information. We thank Tsutomu Takeda of Nikko Yumoto Visitor Center of Nikko National Park for his help with the identification of wildlife. Tomoyuki Nakamura and Shoichiro Yamamoto also of the NRIFS helped us with valuable advice. We are grateful to Matthew A. Campbell of Hokkaido University, Sienna Campbell, and Milos Djordjevic for critically reading the manuscript and providing valuable comments. This work was supported in part by a grant-in-aid from the Fisheries Research and Education Agency and JSPS KAKENHI (Grant Number JP26292102).


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Research Center for Freshwater Fisheries, National Research Institute of Fisheries ScienceJapan Fisheries Research and Education AgencyNikkoJapan
  2. 2.Research Faculty of AgricultureHokkaido UniversitySapporoJapan

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