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Threat-Sensitive Behavioral Responses to Concentrations of Water-Borne Cues from Predation


Banugopan Kesavaraju, Department of Biological Sciences, Illinois State University, Normal, IL 61790-4120, USA.


Aquatic organisms often detect predators via water-borne chemical cues, and respond by showing reduced activity. Prey responses may be correlated with the concentration of predation cues, which would result in graded antipredator behavioral responses that adjust potentially costly behavioral changes to levels that are commensurate with the risk of predation. Larvae of the predatory mosquito Toxorhynchites rutilus prey upon other container-dwelling insects, including larvae of the mosquito Ochlerotatus triseriatus. Previous work has established that O. triseriatus reduce movement, foraging, and time below the surface, and increase the frequency of resting at the surface, in the presence of water-borne cues from predation by T. rutilus. We tested whether these responses by O. triseriatus are threat sensitive by recording behavior of fourth instar larvae in two runs of an experiment in which we created a series of concentrations (100, 10, 1, 0.1, and 0.01% and 100, 70, 40, 20, and 10%) of water that had held either O. triseriatus larvae alone (control) or a T. rutilus larva feeding on O. triseriatus (predation). We also tested whether associated effects on time spent feeding are threat sensitive by determining whether frequencies of filtering or browsing are also related to concentration of cues. The frequencies of resting and surface declined, whereas frequency of filtering (but not browsing) increased more rapidly with a decrease in concentration of predation cues compared with control cues. Thus, O. triseriatus shows a threat sensitive behavioral response to water-borne cues from this predator, adjusting its degree of behavioral response to the apparent risk of predation.