Marine & Environmental Sciences Faculty Datasets


Effects of predator cues on migration-related behaviors of Eastern Mosquitofish (Gambusia holbrooki) in temporary wetlands of the Everglades

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Temporary wetlands impose risks on aquatic organisms that use them. Reliable cues for seasonal migration are critical to persistence of populations in those environments. In the Everglades, fish like Eastern Mosquitofish (Gambusia holbrooki) show seasonal migration patterns, immigrating to temporary wetlands at the beginning of the wet season, foraging there, then increasing movement activity to emigrate at the beginning to the dry season. Migration has been shown to be influenced by factors like species-specific behaviors, intraspecific variation in personality and taxis along resource gradients. We sought to detect whether predator cues, in the form of a predatory wading bird model or chemical cues from wading bird feces alter migration-related personality traits in Eastern Mosquitofish. We filmed fish exploring an unknown environment with different permutations of visual and chemical predator cues and collected data related to boldness and exploration. We observed an additive effect of both types of predator cues on boldness: predator cues increased boldness, as measured by reduced latency to exit a refuge and faster times to reach food bait. However, we saw no strong effect on exploration-related traits. The results imply that Eastern Mosquitofish are stimulated to movement by predator presence or are more tolerant of risk. The relationships between seasonally varying hydrology, the presence of seasonal predators like wading birds and the need for seasonal migration by small fish populations are complex and synergistic and thus must be accounted for by landscape and natural resource managers.

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calculation template.xlsx (140 kB)
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