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Effects of degraded optical conditions on behavioural responses to alarm cues in a freshwater fish.

  • Lynn Ranåker
  • Anders Nilsson
  • Christer Brönmark
Publishing year: 2012
Language: English
Publication/Series: PLoS ONE
Volume: 7
Issue: 6
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: Public Library of Science

Abstract english

Prey organisms often use multiple sensory cues to gain reliable information about imminent predation threat. In this study we test if a freshwater fish increases the reliance on supplementary cues when the reliability of the primary cue is reduced. Fish commonly use vision to evaluate predation threat, but may also use chemical cues from predators or injured conspecifics. Environmental changes, such as increasing turbidity or water colour, may compromise the use of vision through changes in the optical properties of water. In an experiment we tested if changes in optical conditions have any effects on how crucian carp respond to chemical predator cues. In turbidity treatments we added either clay or algae, and in a brown water colour treatment we added water with a high humic content. We found that carp reduced activity in response to predator cues, but only in the turbidity treatments (clay, algae), whereas the response in the brown water treatment was intermediate, and not significantly different from, clear and turbid water treatments. The increased reliance on chemical cues indicates that crucian carp can compensate for the reduced information content from vision in waters where optical conditions are degraded. The lower effect in brown water may be due to the reduction in light intensity, changes in the spectral composition (reduction of UV light) or to a change in chemical properties of the cue in humic waters.


  • Ecology


  • BECC
  • ISSN: 1932-6203
Anders Nilsson
E-mail: anders [dot] nilsson [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se


Aquatic ecology

+46 46 222 83 65

+46 70 346 25 66



Research group

Aquatic Ecology


Doctoral students and postdocs

Main supervisor

Varpu Pärssinen

Assistant supervisor

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