Predation is an important factor influencing the strength and success of a year class in many prey fishes. Many adaptations, including chemical cues, benefit shoaling groups by informing members of a possible impending predatory threat. Bighead (Hypophthalmichthys nobilis) and silver carps (Hypophthalmichthys molitrix) are widely dispersed invasive fishes that spend much of their first year at a size vulnerable to predation. The objective of this study was to evaluate the fright response of juvenile bighead and silver carps when exposed to alarm cues from conspecific and heterospecific fishes. Groups of carps were exposed to 5 mL of alarm cue from either bighead carp, silver carp, golden shiner (Notemigonus crysoleucas), or fathead minnow (Pimephales promelas). Behavior was recorded before and after the application of the treatment. Our results indicate that both species were unable to recognize chemical alarm cues from North American cypriniforms, yet both were able to recognize conspecific alarm cues. However, the two species of bigheaded carps respond to conspecific chemicals differently. Silver carp increase distance among individuals, whereas bighead carp reduce distance between individuals. Both show a reduction in activity after chemical application. Though both species recognize conspecific alarm cues, bighead carp exhibit similar fright patterns when exposed to alarm chemicals of silver carp, yet no behavioral responses were detected in silver carp when exposed to alarm chemicals of bighead carp. An understanding of fright response in bighead and silver carps aids understanding of predator interactions and ecological roles of these fishes, and can be utilized in population management applications.
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We thank Curt Byrd and Duane Chapman of the USGS Columbia Environmental Research Center and Steve Kahrs of Osage Catfisheries, Inc. for providing bigheaded carps used in this study. We also thank Naveen Parthiban and two anonymous reviewers for their efforts to provide constructive comments on this manuscript.
The study was supported in part by the funding from the Great Lakes Research Initiative, administered through the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (CAFWS‐93).
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The authors have no conflicts of interest.
All study procedures adhered to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Institutional Animal Care and Use guidelines for ethical treatment of animals under the protocol #17068.
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Wilson, J.C., White, D.P., Detmer, T.M. et al. Behavioral response of juvenile silver and bighead carp to conspecific and heterospecific alarm cues. Biol Invasions 23, 2233–2248 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10530-021-02502-x