In aquatic environments, chemical cues serve as an important source of information for the detection of predation risk. Here, we investigate the response of convict cichlids, Cichlasoma nigrofasciatum, to injury-released chemical cues. We exposed pairs of juvenile convict cichlids first to dechlorinated tap water (control), then later to one of two test stimuli: 1. chemical cues from injured convict cichlids; or 2. chemical cues from injured mosquito fish, Gambusia affinis. Gambusia are allopatric and phylogenetically unrelated to convict cichlids. Gambusia skin was used to control for a general response to injured fish. In response to conspecific cues, convict cichlids significantly increased time spent near the bottom of test aquaria and time under a shelter object. In response to Gambusia skin, convict cichlids tended to increase time spent near the tank bottom but did not increase use of the shelter object. There was a trade-off between antipredator and agonistic behaviours. In response to convict cichlid cues, there was a significant reduction in the frequency of approaches and bites. Gambusia skin extract had no significant effect on aggressive behaviour. These data suggest a species-specific antipredator response to conspecific alarm pheromones in a New World cichlid fish and demonstrate a trade-off between predator avoidance and intraspecific aggression. Further, the presence of an alarm response in this model species sets the stage for the use of chemical cues as a research tool to manipulate predation risk in studies of the interaction between predation risk and reproductive behaviour.
|Number of pages||9|
|State||Published - Apr 1997|
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Animal Science and Zoology