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Against the Flow: Chemical Detection of Downstream Predators in Running Waters

Jonas Dahl, P. Anders Nilsson and Lars B. Pettersson
Proceedings: Biological Sciences
Vol. 265, No. 1403 (Jul. 22, 1998), pp. 1339-1344
Published by: Royal Society
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/51329
Page Count: 6
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Against the Flow: Chemical Detection of Downstream Predators in Running Waters
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Abstract

In running waters, chemical cues have generally been assumed to always come from upstream locations. Here, we present field and laboratory evidence that Gammarus pulex can use chemical cues from downstream predators to adaptively adjust drifting behaviour. In the field, significantly fewer Gammarus migrated into stream enclosures where brown trout (Salmo trutta) were present than into control enclosures. In a subsequent laboratory experiment, Gammarus actively avoided live trout and trout chemicals placed downstream in an artificial stream, whereas no effects were found in response to control or visual cues. We suggest that the mechanism explaining the ability of Gammarus to detect downstream predators is use of backflows, which locally transport fish chemicals against the main flow. Such backflows are both created by the Gammarus itself and by surrounding substrate heterogeneity. These results profoundly affect the way in which we view the chemical environment of running waters and have important implications for empirical and theoretical work evaluating predator effects in running waters, as they demonstrate that prey immigration rates can depend on downstream predator densities.

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