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Predator Avoidance in Extremophile Fish

Department of Ecology & Evolution, J.W. Goethe University Frankfurt, Max-von-Laue-Straße 13, Frankfurt am Main, D-60438, Germany
Institute of Biochemistry & Biology, Unit of Animal Ecology, University of Potsdam, Maulbeerallee 1, Potsdam, 14469, Germany
División Académica de Ciencias Biológicas, Universidad Juárez Autónoma de Tabasco (UJAT), Villahermosa, Tabasco, CP 86150, Mexico
Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, University of Sheffield, Western Bank, Sheffield S10 2TN, UK
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Life 2013, 3(1), 161-180;
Received: 10 December 2012 / Revised: 28 January 2013 / Accepted: 28 January 2013 / Published: 6 February 2013
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Extremophiles and Extreme Environments)
Extreme habitats are often characterized by reduced predation pressures, thus representing refuges for the inhabiting species. The present study was designed to investigate predator avoidance of extremophile populations of Poecilia mexicana and P. sulphuraria that either live in hydrogen sulfide-rich (sulfidic) springs or cave habitats, both of which are known to have impoverished piscine predator regimes. Focal fishes that inhabited sulfidic springs showed slightly weaker avoidance reactions when presented with several naturally occurring predatory cichlids, but strongest differences to populations from non-sulfidic habitats were found in a decreased shoaling tendency with non-predatory swordtail (Xiphophorus hellerii) females. When comparing avoidance reactions between P. mexicana from a sulfidic cave (Cueva del Azufre) and the adjacent sulfidic surface creek (El Azufre), we found only slight differences in predator avoidance, but surface fish reacted much more strongly to the non-predatory cichlid Vieja bifasciata. Our third experiment was designed to disentangle learned from innate effects of predator recognition. We compared laboratory-reared (i.e., predator-naïve) and wild-caught (i.e., predator-experienced) individuals of P. mexicana from a non-sulfidic river and found no differences in their reaction towards the presented predators. Overall, our results indicate (1) that predator avoidance is still functional in extremophile Poecilia spp. and (2) that predator recognition and avoidance reactions have a strong genetic basis. View Full-Text
Keywords: antipredator behavior; hydrogen sulfide; Poecilia; predator avoidance; predator recognition antipredator behavior; hydrogen sulfide; Poecilia; predator avoidance; predator recognition
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MDPI and ACS Style

Bierbach, D.; Schulte, M.; Herrmann, N.; Zimmer, C.; Arias-Rodriguez, L.; Indy, J.R.; Riesch, R.; Plath, M. Predator Avoidance in Extremophile Fish. Life 2013, 3, 161-180.

AMA Style

Bierbach D, Schulte M, Herrmann N, Zimmer C, Arias-Rodriguez L, Indy JR, Riesch R, Plath M. Predator Avoidance in Extremophile Fish. Life. 2013; 3(1):161-180.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Bierbach, David, Matthias Schulte, Nina Herrmann, Claudia Zimmer, Lenin Arias-Rodriguez, Jeane R. Indy, Rüdiger Riesch, and Martin Plath. 2013. "Predator Avoidance in Extremophile Fish" Life 3, no. 1: 161-180.

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