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Effects of body size, body condition, and breeding state on responses to alarm cues by fathead minnows

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There is often considerable variation in the intensity of behavioural responses of prey to predation cues. The purpose of the current study was to determine the role of standard length (a correlate of age), body condition (a measure of energy reserves, calculated by mass/(standard length)3), and gonadosomatic index (state of reproduction, calculated by gonad mass/body mass) in the responses of fathead minnows (Pimephales promelas Rafinesque, 1820) to damage-release alarm cues. Our data indicate that during the nonbreeding season longer/older minnows exhibited significantly increased antipredator responses compared with younger individuals. However, the significance of these correlations ceased during the breeding season. Data from the same trials failed to reveal a significant correlation between the intensity of antipredator behaviour and the body condition before or during the breeding season; the intensity of a minnow’s antipredator response was also not significantly correlated with its gonadosomatic index. These data are important in understanding factors affecting antipredator behaviour of minnows, as well as aiding researchers in determining potential time of year confounds in future studies.

Il y a souvent une variation considérable dans les réactions comportementales des proies aux signaux des prédateurs. L’objectif de notre étude est de déterminer le rôle de la longueur standard (une variable reliée à l’âge), de la condition corporelle (une mesure des réserves énergétiques, calculée par le rapport masse/(longueur standard)3) et de l’indice gonadosomatique (état reproductif, calculé par le rapport masse des gonades/masse du corps) dans les réactions de la tête-de-boule (Pimephales promelas Rafinesque, 1820) à des signaux d’alertes générés par des blessures corporelles. Nos données indiquent que, hors de la saison de reproduction, les têtes-de-boule plus longues/âgées ont des réactions aux prédateurs significativement plus fortes que les individus plus jeunes. Cependant, durant la période de reproduction, ces corrélations cessent d’être significatives. Les données provenant des mêmes expériences n’indiquent pas de corrélation significative entre l’intensité du comportement anti-prédateur et la condition corporelle ni avant ni pendant la période de reproduction; l’intensité de la réaction anti-prédateur n’est pas non plus reliée significativement à l’indice gonadosomatique. Ces données sont importantes pour comprendre les facteurs qui affectent le comportement anti-prédateur chez les cyprins; ils permettront aussi aux chercheurs de déterminer les temps de l’année qui peuvent générer de la confusion dans les recherches futures.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2006

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  • Published since 1929, this monthly journal reports on primary research contributed by respected international scientists in the broad field of zoology, including behaviour, biochemistry and physiology, developmental biology, ecology, genetics, morphology and ultrastructure, parasitology and pathology, and systematics and evolution. It also invites experts to submit review articles on topics of current interest.
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