Naive tadpoles do not recognize recent invasive predatory fishes as dangerous

Attila Hettyey, Kerstin E. Thonhauser, Veronika Bókony, Dustin J. Penn, Herbert Hoi, Matteo Griggio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

11 Citations (Scopus)


Invasive alien predators (IAP) are spreading on a global scale-often with devastating ecological effects. One reason for their success may be that prey species fail to recognize them due to a lack of co-evolutionary history. We performed a comprehensive test of this prey naiveté hypothesis using a novel approach: we tested whether predator-naive tadpoles of the agile frog (Rana dalmatina) display antipredator behavior upon encountering chemical cues produced by native, invasive (established or recent) or allopatric fishes (four perciforms, four siluriforms, and two cypriniforms). We studied the influence of population origin on predator-detection ability by presenting chemical cues to predator-naive tadpoles that originated from fishless hill-ponds or fish-infested floodplain populations. Before trials, we fed fishes with tadpoles or an alternative food to test whether direct chemical cues from the predator's diet influences the tadpoles' recognition of potential predators. Tadpoles reduced their activity upon exposure to cues from native and long-established invasive perciforms, but not in response to recent invaders, allopatric predators, or to any siluriforms. Also, predators that were previously fed with tadpoles did not universally induce behavioral defensedefenses upon first encounter. Finally, tadpoles originating from isolated hill-ponds exhibited higher baseline activity and responded in weaker fashion than their conspecifics from floodplain populations, which co-exist with predatory fishes. Our results indicate that tadpoles may be vulnerable to invading predatory fishes due to their inability to recognize them as dangerous, though their ability to recognize invasive IAP may evolve rapidly, in fewer than 30 generations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2975-2985
Number of pages11
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1 2016


  • Antipredator behaviour
  • History of coexistence
  • Inducible defense
  • Invasive species
  • Predator recognition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

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    Hettyey, A., Thonhauser, K. E., Bókony, V., Penn, D. J., Hoi, H., & Griggio, M. (2016). Naive tadpoles do not recognize recent invasive predatory fishes as dangerous. Ecology, 97(11), 2975-2985.