Free—living fathead minnows rapidly learn to recognize pike as predators

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Abstract

Individuals from a natural population of approximately 20 000 fathead minnows from a pike–free pond did not respond with appropriate anti–predator behaviour upon encountering pike odour in laboratory tests. However, 14 days after 10 pike were stocked into the pond, minnows had acquired recognition of pike odour. Laboratory studies have indicated several possible mechanisms for acquiring predator recognition in fathead minnows. This study indicates that these, or similar processes, can produce major changes in predator recognition in the wild.

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