The Response of the Tidepool Sculpin, Oligocottus maculosus, to Chemical Stimuli from Injured Conspecifics, Alarm Signalling in the Cottidae (Pisces)


Biology Department, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Sask., Canada, S7N OWO.


The tidepool sculpin, Oligocottus maculosus, a small, cottiid fish of the Pacific coast of North America, shows reduced movement, less feeding activity, a greater tendency to attach itself to the substrate, and a shift from exposed areas to shelters and crevices when presented with water that has contained injured conspecifics. This alarm reaction does not occur in response to water that has contained uninjured, but disturbed, O. maculosus, or injured guppies, Poecilia reticulata, O. maculosus are not toxic or distasteful to piscine predators. They do possess large, epidermal sacciform cells that may contain the active chemical(s) released by injured individuals. This is the first report of chemical alarm signalling in Cottidae.