Innate response based on visual cues of sympatric and allopatric predators in Nile tilapia.


Department of Physiology, Institute of Biosciences of Botucatu, UNESP, CAUNESP, Rubião Jr. s/n, São Paulo State, 99052-900, Brazil. Electronic address: [Email]


Predators are an important selective pressure for prey, and responses to visual exposure to non-predators and to allopatric and sympatric predators may assist the understanding of how prey animals recognize and distinguish potential threats. Here, we visually exposed predator-naïve Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) to aquaria with only water (handling-negative control), a non-predator fish (Cyprinus carpio), a South American catfish (Pseudoplatystoma coruscans, allopatric predator), and an African catfish (Clarias gariepinus; sympatric predator). We found that Nile tilapia displayed antipredator responses to both predator catfish but not to non-predator fish or negative control conditions. These antipredator responses, however, were stronger to the sympatric catfish in comparison to the allopatric animal. We concluded that Nile tilapia is able to innately distinguish between a sympatric and an allopatric predator based on visual cues. We assume that the innate recognition of the allopatric predator could be attributed to similarities in the body morphology and movement (key stimuli) of the South American and African catfish. Although this is plausible, the mechanism of the innate allopatric recognition remains unknown and deserves future investigation.


Defensive behavior,Fish,Innate fear,Nonconsumptive effects,Trait-mediated effects,