Learned predator recognition and antipredator responses in fishes

Jennifer L. Kelley, Anne E. Magurran*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

276 Citations (Scopus)


Early research into the causes of geographical variation in antipredator behaviour in fishes revealed that population differences have an underlying genetic basis. However, evidence from a variety of fish species suggests that learning plays an important role in the development of antipredator responses. Here, we consider the opportunities for learning during the three main stages of a predator-prey interaction: detection, recognition and assessment, and attack avoidance. Much of the evidence for learning is based on the recognition and assessment stage of the predator-prey interaction, but this may reflect methodological biases. We also examine the relative roles of different sensory cues, in particular, vision and olfaction, and the importance of individual vs. social learning. We provide evidence that visual predator recognition skills are largely built on unlearned predispositions, whereas olfactory recognition typically involves experience with conspecific alarm cues. Populations display variation in their propensity to learn, and we predict that ecological factors are likely to mediate the balance between individual and social learning.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)216-226
Number of pages11
JournalFish and Fisheries
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2003


  • Assessment cues
  • Gender
  • Individual learning
  • Population differences
  • Predation


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