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Interpopulation variation in predator avoidance behavior of a freshwater snail to the same predator

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The New Zealand mud snail (Potamopyrgus antipodarum (J.E. Grey, 1843)) responds to the presence of predatory fish by moving to a safer environment. These experiments attempted to determine if predator detection by the snail results in specific responses to light and (or) gravity by the snail and if snails respond more or less to fish from their native lake compared with fish from a foreign lake. Snails and fish (Gobiomorphus cotidianus McDowall, 1975) were collected from lakes Alexandrina and Peorua from the South Island of New Zealand. Snails were placed in behavioral chambers and tested for their responses to the direction of light, vertical orientation with respect to gravity, and rate of movement in light and dark conditions. Snails from each lake were exposed to one of three treatments: plain water, water from fish from Lake Alexandrina, and water from fish from Lake Peorua. Results showed no effect of direction of light on behavior. Snails from Lake Alexandrina were not found to alter their up or down movements in response to the detection of fish. However, snails from Lake Peorua moved down more in response to fish from their own lake than fish from Lake Alexandrina or no fish. Both snail populations increase their speed in the light more when detecting Alexandrina fish compared with Peorua fish and no fish. Both snail populations show some evidence of enhanced response to local predator populations. Interestingly, different behavioral mechanisms appear to be responsible for the avoidance behaviors in each population.

Keywords: Gobiomorphus cotidianus; New Zealand mud snail; Potamopyrgus antipodarum; antipredator behavior; comportement d’anti-prédation; fish; nasse de Nouvelle-Zélande; poisson

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: May 13, 2012

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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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