The relative importance of prey‑borne and predator‑borne chemical cues for inducible antipredator responses in tadpoles

Hettyey, Attila; Toth, Zoltan; Thonhauser, Kerstin E.; Frommen, Joachim Gerhard; Penn, Dustin J.; Van Buskirk, Josh (2015). The relative importance of prey‑borne and predator‑borne chemical cues for inducible antipredator responses in tadpoles. Oecologia, 179(3), pp. 699-710. Springer 10.1007/s00442-015-3382-7

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Chemical cues that evoke anti-predator developmental changes have received considerable attention, but it is not known to what extent prey use information from the smell of predators and from cues released through digestion. We conducted an experiment to determine the importance of various types of cues for the adjustment of anti-predator defences. We exposed tadpoles (common frog, Rana temporaria) to water originating from predators (caged dragonfly larvae, Aeshna cyanea) that were fed different types and quantities of prey outside of tadpole-rearing containers. Variation among treatments in the magnitude of morphological and behavioural responses was highly consistent. Our results demonstrate that tadpoles can assess the threat posed by predators through digestion-released, prey-borne cues and continually released predator-borne cues. These cues may play an important role in the fine-tuning of anti-predator responses and significantly affect the outcome of interactions between predators and prey in aquatic ecosystems. There has been much confusion regards terminology used in the literature, and therefore we also propose a more precise and consistent binomial nomenclature based on the timing of chemical cue release (stress-, attack-, capture-, digestion- or continually released cues) and the origin of cues (prey-borne or predator-borne cues). We hope that this new nomenclature will improve comparisons among studies on this topic.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Ecology and Evolution (IEE) > Behavioural Ecology

UniBE Contributor:

Frommen, Joachim Gerhard


500 Science > 590 Animals (Zoology)








Karin Schneeberger

Date Deposited:

27 Sep 2016 11:47

Last Modified:

28 Sep 2016 05:47

Publisher DOI:





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