Hunger suppresses the onset and the freezing component of the antipredator response to conspecific skin extract in pintado catfish

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2001-10-01

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Brill Academic Publishers

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Although the skin of an injured conspecific releases alarm substance in some fish species, it has been shown that such damage induces feeding behaviour rather than an alarm reaction under conditions of food scarcity. We studied chemical communication associated with this paradox in a Brazilian catfish, the pintado (Pseudoplatystoma coruscans). In preliminary tests pintado were confirmed to demonstrate an alarm reaction to conspecific skin extract. In the experiment we investigated whether skin extract of pintado induces either alarm response (panic or alert component) or feeding in hungry conspecifics. Fish feed-deprived for eight days and fed control fish were exposed to either conspecific skin extract or distilled water (as a control). Alarm reaction was restricted to the skin extract treatment and occurred in the fish irrespective of their hunger state, but the components of this response were significantly affected by hungry. Fed fish showed a complete alarm reaction (dashing and freezing behaviours). Feed-deprived fish exhibited only part of this biphasic response, the dashing component. We conclude that chemicals from injured fish elicit an alarm reaction, which is partially inhibited by feeding motivation.

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Behaviour. Leiden: Brill Academic Publishers, v. 138, p. 1205-1214, 2001.

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