Freshwater pearl mussels show plasticity of responses to different predation risks but also show consistent individual differences in responsiveness

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Abstract

Animals often show behavioural plasticity with respect to predation risk but also show behavioural syndromes in terms of consistency of responses to different stimuli. We examine these features in the freshwater pearl mussel. These bivalves often aggregate presumably to reduce predation risk to each individual. Predation risk, however, will be higher in the presence of predator cues. Here we use dimming light, vibration and touch as novel stimuli to examine the trade-off between motivation to feed and motivation to avoid predation. We present two experiments that each use three sequential novel stimuli to cause the mussels to close their valves and hence cease feeding. We find that mussels within a group showed shorter closure times than solitary mussels, consistent with decreased vulnerability to predation in group-living individuals. Mussels exposed to the odour of a predatory crayfish showed longer closures than control mussels, highlighting the predator assessment abilities of this species. However, individuals showed significant consistency in their closure responses across the trial series, in line with behavioural syndrome theory. Our results show that bivalves trade-off feeding and predator avoidance according to predation risk but the degree to which this is achieved is constrained by behavioural consistency.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)299-303
Number of pages5
JournalBehavioural Processes
Volume89
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 01 Mar 2012

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