Acquired Recognition of Predator Odour in the European Minnow (Phoxinus phoxinus)


School of Biological Sciences, University College of North Wales, Bangor, Gwynedd LL57 2UW, U.K.


Naive European minnows (Phoxinus phoxinus) do not show a fright reaction when they first encounter the odour of a natural predator (the pike: Esox lucius) or the odour of a non-piscivorous exotic (tilapia: Tilapia mariae). A conditioned fright response to both these odours will however develop if minnows experience them in a potentially dangerous situation, for example, in conjunction with Schreckstoff, the ostariophysian alarm pheromone. Although minnows respond to both odours the reaction to the tilapia odour is reduced. This suggests that a constraint on learning is involved. Olfactory recognition is particularly valuable for detecting predators that hunt in conditions where visibility is poor.