Knowing Your Behaviour: The importance of Behavioural Assays in the Characterisation of Chemical Alarm Cues in Fishes and Amphibians

  • Reehan S. Mirza
  • Chantale A. Laraby
  • Ashley M. Marcellus


Predation provides a strong selective pressure that shapes the antipredator responses of aquatic animals. This has led to the evolution of chemical alarm systems where chemicals released from injured prey evoke antipredator responses that enhance survival when encountering predators. The chemical structure of alarm cues is unknown and little work has been conducted on characterising/identifying them. In this study, we use high performance liquid chromatography to separate skin extracts from fathead minnows (Pimephales promelas) and larval grey tree frogs (Hyla vesicolor) and then deliver the fractions back to test animals to determine which portions of the skin extract leads to antipredator behaviour. In fathead minnows, one fraction of the skin extract evokes antipredator behaviour, but in grey tree frog tadpoles no single fraction of the extract caused antipredator behaviour. These results provide insight into the characterisation of chemical alarm cues and the importance of behavioural assays in this process.


High Performance Liquid Chromatography High Performance Liquid Chromatography Analysis Fathead Minnow Behavioural Assay Wood Frog 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Reehan S. Mirza
    • 1
  • Chantale A. Laraby
    • 1
  • Ashley M. Marcellus
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Biology and ChemistryNipissing UniversityNorth BayCanada

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