Predator choice in the field; grouping guppies, Poecilia reticulata, receive more attacks

M. S. Botham*, C. J. Kerfoot, Vasilis Louca, J. Krause

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Citations (Scopus)


Capture success of many predator species has been shown to decrease with increasing prey group size and it is therefore suggested that predators should choose to attack stragglers and/or small groups. Predator choice in the laboratory has shown mixed results with some species preferentially attacking large groups and others preferring to attack stragglers over groups. Such predator choices have not been tested in the field. In our study we presented a binary choice between a shoal of guppies and a single guppy to predators in pools in the Arima river, Trinidad. We observed attacks in 11 different pools from a total of 53 predators (20 acara cichlids, Aequidens pulcher, 32 pike cichlids, Crenicichla frenata, and one wolf-fish, Hoplias malabaricus) and found that all predators showed a strong preference for the shoal of guppies in terms of both first choice and total number of attacks. We discuss the implications of these preferences with regards to predator-prey interactions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)181-184
Number of pages4
JournalBehavioral Ecology and Sociobiology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2005


  • Aequidens
  • Crenicichla
  • Grouping
  • Guppies
  • Predator-prey
  • Straggler


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