Date of Award:

5-2009

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)

Department:

Watershed Sciences

Advisor/Chair:

Todd A Crowl

Abstract

Fish are one of the most imperiled groups of vertebrates worldwide. Threats to fish fall into one of four general categories: physical habitat loss or degradation, chemical pollution, overfishing, and nonnative species introductions. Nonnative predatory fish often have a devastating impact on native prey, especially with endemic fish, whose restricted distribution and often limited evolutionary history with predators make them particularly susceptible to nonnative predators. One reason nonnative fish are often so efficient predators is that the native fish do not recognize the predator as a threat. Although many studies have examined the role of predator odor recognition, no fish have been shown to possess an innate recognition of the odor of predators unless they share a close co-evolutionary history. Many fish learn to identify novel predators through exposure to a predator's odor in conjunction with a conspecific alarm cue. Alarm cues are substances that are stored in the epidermis of many fish and are released when skin cells are broken. Exposure to novel predator odor in conjunction with alarm cue does not necessarily require a fish to survive a close encounter with a predator to be able to learn to recognize the predator. Here I show that it is possible to train hatchery-raised fish (June sucker, Chasmistes liorus) to recognize a nonnative predator odor (largemouth bass, Micropterus salmoides) through exposure to the odor of a predator that has eaten June sucker. I also show that this training can translate into higher survival in subsequent encounters with predators. I propose that training hatchery-raised fish prior to stocking may increase survival of hatchery-raised fish through anti-predator behavior.

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Biology Commons

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