Effect of predator diet on foraging behavior of panopeus herbstII in response to predator urine cues
Connolly, Lauren E.
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The ability of prey to detect and respond appropriately to predator risk is important to overall prey fitness. Many aquatic organisms assess risk through the use of chemical cues that can change with predator diet. Two variable characteristics of diet are: 1. prey type and 2. prey mass. To assess the effect of these two characteristics on the assessment of risk by the mud crab Panopeus herbstii, I exposed mud crabs to the urine of the blue crab Callinectes sapidus fed one of 5 diet treatments: 10g of oyster shell free wet mass, 5g of oyster shell free wet mass, 10g crushed mud crabs, 5g crushed mud crabs, and a mix of 5g of oyster shell free wet mass and 5g crushed mud crab. Effects on P. herbstii foraging were tested in a previously developed bioassay by measuring shrimp consumption over a 4 hour period. I hypothesized that P. herbstii would have a larger magnitude response to urine from C. sapidus fed a diet of crushed mud crabs than to urine from C. sapidus fed a diet of oysters. I further hypothesized that P. herbstii would have a larger magnitude response to urine from C. sapidus fed a high mass diet relative to a lower mass diet. Contrary to expectations there was no observed effect of urine on P. herbstii foraging in any of the treatments. Results suggest that bioassay protocol may be unreliable suggesting further replication to determine the difference between this study and previous results. Future studies examining how P. herbstii varies with urine concentration will aid in understanding the ecological scale of this predator cue system. Determining the role of other potential cue sources will improve the predictive abilities of these studies.
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