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Vassar College

Publication Date

Fall 2010

Program Name

Australia: Rainforest, Reef, and Cultural Ecology


Chemical alarm cues and their function on the coal reef has become an area of increasing interest in the study of predator-prey dynamics (Smith 1999, Friesen and Chivers 2006, Holmes and McCormick 2010). One prominent question in understanding the evolutionary basis for the development of chemical alarm cues is determining how these cues benefit the sender directly (Chivers 1996). One way chemical alarm cues found in freshwater systems have been found to benefit the sender of the cue is through attraction of secondary predators to the chemical alarm cue, which then interfere with the primary attack and increase chances of escape for the sender (Mathis et al 1995, Chivers 1996, Wisenden and Theil 1998). Recently it has been found that the predator Pseudochromis fuscus is attracted to chemical alarm cues of juvenile prey fish Pomacentrus amboinensis, which suggests that these chemical cues may have evolved as a mechanism that attract secondary predators (Lonnstedt 2009). The current study aimed to determine experimentally in an aquarium setting whether this attraction by P. fuscus to the chemical alarm cue was a learned behavior, or one which is innate, and thus present in naïve P. fuscus as well as the adult. It was found that the naïve juvenile P .fuscus were attracted to the chemical cue, highlighting the importance of this interruption as a forging mechanism for P. fuscus as well as lending further support for its evolutionary development in the prey fish as a mechanism to increase survivorship.


Biology | Ecology and Evolutionary Biology


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