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Diversity 2018, 10(1), 13; https://doi.org/10.3390/d10010013

Training for Translocation: Predator Conditioning Induces Behavioral Plasticity and Physiological Changes in Captive Eastern Hellbenders (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis alleganiensis) (Cryptobranchidae, Amphibia)

Department of Forestry and Natural Resources, Purdue University, 715 West State Street, West Lafayette, IN 47907, USA
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Received: 1 February 2018 / Revised: 6 March 2018 / Accepted: 6 March 2018 / Published: 9 March 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Conservation and Ecology of Amphibians)
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Abstract

Translocations are stressful, especially when captive animals are naïve to natural stimuli. Captive eastern hellbenders (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis alleganiensis) identify predatory fish as threats, but may be more vulnerable to predation and stress because of inexperience with them. We investigated the use of predator conditioning to prepare hellbenders, behaviorally and physiologically, for the presence of a common predator, largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides). We reared hellbenders for 30 d with and without continuous exposure to largemouth bass kairomones and heterospecific alarm cues and found conditioned hellbenders became less active compared to unconditioned individuals (p = 0.017). After conditioning, we exposed hellbenders to water, a low concentration of kairomones, or a high concentration of kairomones in a closed respirometer system. We measured activity within respirometer chambers and routine metabolic rate. We found unconditioned hellbenders exposed to low and high concentrations of kairomones were 41% and 119% more active than conditioned animals (p = 0.002 and p < 0.001). Moreover, conditioned individuals had on average 6.5% lower metabolic rates across all three kairomone concentrations compared to unconditioned individuals (p = 0.017). Our data suggest that predator conditioning induces behavioral avoidance tactics and physiological changes that could improve future translocation efforts for hellbenders and other imperiled species. View Full-Text
Keywords: predator kairomones; metabolic rate; risk assessment; avoidance behavior; captive-rearing; largemouth bass; amphibian conservation predator kairomones; metabolic rate; risk assessment; avoidance behavior; captive-rearing; largemouth bass; amphibian conservation
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Kenison, E.K.; Williams, R.N. Training for Translocation: Predator Conditioning Induces Behavioral Plasticity and Physiological Changes in Captive Eastern Hellbenders (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis alleganiensis) (Cryptobranchidae, Amphibia). Diversity 2018, 10, 13.

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