The effects of different predator species on antipredator behavior in the Trinidadian guppy, Poecilia reticulata

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

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Citations (Scopus)


Different types of predators often elicit different antipredator responses in a common type of prey. Alternatively, some prey species may adopt a general response, which provides limited protection from many different types of predator. The Trinidadian guppy, Poecilia reticulata, is faced with a wide range of different predators throughout its range and is known to display varying levels of antipredator behavior depending on the predator assemblage. Pike cichlids, Crenicichla frenata, are regarded as the primary aquatic guppy predator in streams in the northern mountain range in Trinidad. As such, they are seen to be responsible for many of the differences in morphology, life history traits, and behavior between guppy populations from areas with few predators and those from areas with many pike cichlids. In this study we investigated how guppies responded when faced with different predator species using three common aquatic predators. We exposed shoals of ten guppies to one out of four treatments: no predator (control), pike cichlid, acara cichlid (Aequidens pulcher), and wolf fish (Hoplias malabaricus); and we made behavioral observations on both focal individuals and the shoal as a whole. Guppies showed significantly greater levels of predator inspection and shoaling behavior, foraged less, spent more time in the surface water, and stayed in significantly larger shoals when faced with pike cichlids than in other treatments. We discuss these results in the context of multiple predator effects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)431-439
Number of pages9
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2006


  • Aequidens
  • Antipredator behaviour
  • Crenicichla
  • Guppies
  • Hoplias
  • Multiple predators


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