4. Learning about Danger: Chemical Alarm Cues and Threat-Sensitive Assessment of Predation Risk by Fishes

  1. Culum Brown4,
  2. Kevin Laland5 and
  3. Jens Krause6,7
  1. Grant E. Brown1,
  2. Maud C. O. Ferrari2 and
  3. Douglas P. Chivers3

Published Online: 5 JUL 2011

DOI: 10.1002/9781444342536.ch4

Fish Cognition and Behavior

Fish Cognition and Behavior

How to Cite

Brown, G. E., Ferrari, M. C. O. and Chivers, D. P. (2011) Learning about Danger: Chemical Alarm Cues and Threat-Sensitive Assessment of Predation Risk by Fishes, in Fish Cognition and Behavior (eds C. Brown, K. Laland and J. Krause), Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781444342536.ch4

Editor Information

  1. 4

    Department of Biological Sciences, Macquarie University, Sydney 2109, Australia

  2. 5

    Centre for Social Learning and Cognitive Evolution, School of Biology, University of St Andrews, St Andrews, Fife, KY16 9TS, Scotland, UK

  3. 6

    Department of Biology and Ecology of Fishes, Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries, Berlin, Germany

  4. 7

    Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany

Author Information

  1. 1

    Department of Biology, Concordia University, 7141 Sherbrooke St., W. Montreal, Quebec, H4B 1R6, Canada

  2. 2

    Department of Biomedical Sciences, WCVM, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, SK, Canada

  3. 3

    Department of Biology, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, SK S7N 5E2, Canada

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 5 JUL 2011
  2. Published Print: 29 JUL 2011

Book Series:

  1. Fish and Aquatic Resources Series

Book Series Editors:

  1. Tony J. Pitcher

Series Editor Information

  1. Fisheries Centre, Aquatic Ecosystems Research Laboratory, University of British Columbia, Canada

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9781444332216

Online ISBN: 9781444342536



  • learning about danger, chemical alarm cues - threat-sensitive assessment of predation risk, by fishes;
  • threat-sensitive assessment of predation risk - predation, variable in space and time;
  • approach to threat-sensitive behavioural decision models - local predation threats in real time;
  • Chivers & Smith, importance of experience - responses of fathead minnows to pike cues;
  • chemically mediated learning - prey, to fine-tune predator recognition;
  • variable predation risk - prey fishes, adjustments in intensity of antipredator response;
  • concentration of predator odour - detected, conditioning events, threat of predator;
  • Ferrari et al., and predator recognition continuum hypothesis - recognising novel predators;
  • impairment of alarm cue detection and function - prey exposed to sublethal anthropogenic pollutants;
  • prey fishes, conditioned to recognise - predators based on single learning event


This chapter contains sections titled:

  • Introduction

  • Chemosensory cues as sources of information

  • Variable predation risk and flexible learning

  • Generalisation of risk

  • Predator recognition continuum hypothesis

  • Retention: the forgotten component of learning

  • Conservation, management and learning

  • Conclusions

  • Acknowledgements

  • References