Recognition and response to native and novel predators in the largespring mosquitofish, Gambusia geiseri.
The introduction of predator species into new habitats is an increasingly common consequence of human activities, and the persistence of native prey species depends upon their response to these novel predators. In this study, we examined whether the Largespring mosquitofish, Gambusia geiseri exhibited antipredator behavior and/or an elevation of circulating stress hormones (cortisol) to visual and chemical cues from a native predator, a novel predator, or a non-predatory control fish. Prey showed the most pronounced antipredator response to the native predator treatment, by moving away from the stimulus, while the prey showed no significant changes in their vertical or horizontal position in response to the novel or non-predator treatments. We also found no significant difference in water-borne cortisol release rates following any of the treatments. Our results suggest the prey did not recognize and exhibit antipredator behavior to the novel predator, and we infer that this predator species could be detrimental if it expands into the range of this prey species. Further, our study demonstrates prey may not respond to an invasive predator that is phylogenetically, behaviorally, and morphologically dissimilar from the prey species' native predators.