Diet cues alter the development of predator recognition templates in tadpoles

Mitchell, Matthew; Ferrari, Maud; Lucon-Xiccato, Tyrone; Chivers, Douglas
October 2016
Behavioral Ecology & Sociobiology;Oct2016, Vol. 70 Issue 10, p1707
Academic Journal
Recognising predators accurately is key to making fine-scale adjustments to behaviour that enhance survival and maximise overall fitness for prey. Prey incorporate information from specific predator features in order to recognise predators and the risk they pose. For olfactory cues, prey can use both predator odour and diet cues to recognise predators. The role of diet cues in predator recognition has only been tested when they provide information about risk and act as an unconditioned stimulus. Thus, it is unclear whether prey use diet cues in the development of more general predator recognition templates. Here, we tested whether diet cues that contain no apparent information about the prey's vulnerability to the predator are used by prey when they learn to recognise predators. We trained predator-naive wood frog tadpoles ( Lithobates sylvaticus) to recognise the odour of a novel crayfish ( Orconectes virilis) as risky by pairing tadpole alarm cues with the odour of crayfish fed one of two diets: alfalfa pellets or earthworms ( Lumbricus sp.). We tested tadpoles from each group for their response to one of the two crayfish diet odour combinations or a water control. Tadpoles displayed antipredator responses to crayfish odour, irrespective of diet. However, their responses were stronger when tadpoles were exposed to crayfish fed the same diet as during training. Such results demonstrate that diet cues play a previously unrecognised but subtle role in predator recognition and suggest that flexibility in prey choice can lead to an advantage for the predator. Significance statement: Recognising predators and the threat they pose is critical for prey to adjust their behaviour in response to fluctuations in predation risk. There is therefore a need to understand how prey use different cues to develop effective recognition templates that allow for threat-sensitive adjustments to behaviour. Here, we demonstrate that diet cues of predators contribute to the development of predator recognition templates by prey. These results provide new information about how prey develop recognition templates for predators and that, by incorporating diet cues, they are able to adjust their responses to variable risk posed by different predators within a population. Additionally, we suggest that generalist diets may provide unrecognised benefits to predators when switching between prey types.


Related Articles

  • Population divergence in growth rate and antipredator defences in Rana arvalis. Laurila, Anssi; Pakkasmaa, Susanna; Merilä, Juha // Oecologia;Mar2006, Vol. 147 Issue 4, p585 

    Growth and development rates often differ among populations of the same species, yet the factors maintaining this differentiation are not well understood. We investigated the antipredator defences and their efficiency in two moor frog Rana arvalis populations differing in growth and development...

  • Non-interactive multiple predator effects on tadpole survival. Ramos, Oscar; Buskirk, Josh // Oecologia;Jun2012, Vol. 169 Issue 2, p535 

    Interactions among and within three species of predators were estimated in terms of their effects on prey survival using short-term predation experiments. The prey were tadpoles ( Rana temporaria), and the predators were dragonfly larvae ( Anax imperator), newts ( Triturus alpestris), and...

  • The Ecological Significance and Incidence of Intraguild Predation and Cannibalism among Anurans in Ephemeral Tropical Pools. Hawley, Tanya J. // Copeia;Dec2009, Vol. 2009 Issue 4, p748 

    Ephemeral pools are traditionally considered to be tadpole refuges, with few or no predators. While it is recognized that some tadpoles are predaceous, little attention has been given to understanding how tadpoles shape age and size structures of populations and the composition of tadpole...

  • The role of images of conspecifics as visual cues in the development and behavior of larval anurans. Rot-Nikcevic, Irena; Taylor, Christopher N.; Wassersug, Richard J. // Behavioral Ecology & Sociobiology;May2006, Vol. 60 Issue 1, p19 

    Tadpoles can alter their behavior, morphology, and life history in response to habitat change. Although chemical signals from conspecifics or predators play an important role in tadpole habitat assessment, little is known about the role of visual cues and the extent to which tadpoles rely on...

  • VOLE POPULATION FLUCTUATIONS: FACTORS THAT INITIATE AND DETERMINE INTERVALS BETWEEN THEM IN MICROTUS OCHROGASTER. Getz, Lowell L.; Oli, Madan K.; Hofmann, Joyce E.; McGuire, Betty // Journal of Mammalogy;Apr2006, Vol. 87 Issue 2, p387 

    We studied factors associated with occurrence of high-amplitude population fluctuations of the prairie vole (Microtus ochrogaster) in alfalfa, bluegrass, and tallgrass habitats in east-central Illinois for 25 years. Increased survival was the most important factor associated with initiation of a...

  • Predator Boom.  // Outdoor Life;Mar2011, Vol. 218 Issue 3, p10 

    The article presents the views of the authors regarding the growing population of predators such as wolves and bears in Michigan.

  • Crowded Coexistence.  // Earth Island Journal;Spring2015, Vol. 30 Issue 1, p8 

    The article reports on study published in the journal "Science," in December 2014, which states that the populations of several large predators are greater in Europe than in the U.S.

  • Major components of grizzly bear diet across North America. Mowat, Garth; Heard, Douglas C. // Canadian Journal of Zoology;Mar2006, Vol. 84 Issue 3, p473 

    We measured stable carbon and nitrogen isotope ratios in guard hair of 81 populations of grizzly bears (Ursus arctos L., 1758) across North America and used mixing models to assign diet fractions of salmon, meat derived from terrestrial sources, kokanee (Oncorhynchus nerka (Walbaum in Artedi,...

  • Diet of the Rio Grande Leopard Frog (Rana berlandieri) in Texas. Parker, Melissa L.; Goldstein, Michael I. // Journal of Herpetology;Mar2004, Vol. 38 Issue 1, p127 

    Considering the breadth of research evaluating amphibian population declines and the lack of natural history information on this invasive frog species, we identified prey items in the diet of Rana berlandieri in south and west Texas. During 2000, adult frogs were collected in the spring and fall...

  • Competition between tadpoles and mosquito larvae. Mokany, A.; Shine, R. // Oecologia;May2003, Vol. 135 Issue 4, p615 

    Tadpoles and mosquito larvae often co-occur, and may compete for scarce resources. However, competition between such distantly related organisms has attracted less scientific attention than have interactions among closely related taxa. We examined ecological interactions in two tadpole-mosquito...


Read the Article


Sorry, but this item is not currently available from your library.

Try another library?
Sign out of this library

Other Topics