Environmental Biology of Fishes

, Volume 51, Issue 3, pp 331–338 | Cite as

The response of female guppies, Poecilia reticulata, to chemical stimuli from injured conspecifics

  • Shawn E. Nordell


Predation is an important component of the life history and behavior of many fish. In some species of teleost fishes, conspecifics respond to chemical stimuli from injured conspecifics by displaying a fright response, such as increased cohesion of schooling. The purpose of this experiment was to investigate whether female guppies, Poecilia reticulata, display a fright response when exposed to a filtered extract made from wounded conspecifics. The schooling behavior of female guppies was observed for ten minute periods for each of three treatments: baseline treatment (no substances added to the aquarium water), sham treatment (distilled water added to the aquarium water), and alarm treatment (fish extract added to the aquarium water). Female guppies responded with a fright reaction when exposed to a filtered extract prepared from wounded conspecifics; female swam in a more cohesive school during the alarm treatment than they did in either the baseline or sham treatments. The guppy fright reaction response indicates that the fish extract is recognized by conspecifics.

alarm reaction fish schooling predation fish assessment fright response 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shawn E. Nordell
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BiologyUniversity of New MexicoAlbuquerqueU.S.A.

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