Temperature and turbidity interact synergistically to alter anti-predator behaviour in the Trinidadian guppy



Due to climate change, freshwater habitats are facing increasing temperatures and more extreme weather that disrupts water flow. Together with eutrophication and sedimentation from farming, quarrying and urbanisation, freshwaters are becoming more turbid as well as warmer. Predators and prey need to be able to respond to one another adaptively, yet how changes in temperature and turbidity interact to affect predator-prey behaviour remains unexplored. Using a fully factorial design, we tested the combined effects of increased temperature and turbidity on the behaviour of guppy shoals (Poecilia reticulata) in the presence of one of their natural cichlid predators, the blue acara (Andinoacara pulcher). Our results demonstrate that the prey and predator were in closest proximity in warmer, turbid water, with an interaction between these stressors showing a greater than additive effect. There was also an interaction between the stressors in the inter-individual distances between the prey, where shoal cohesion increased with temperature in clear water, but decreased when temperature increased in turbid water. The closer proximity to predators and reduction in shoaling in turbid, warmer water may increase the risk of predation for the guppy, suggesting that the combined effects of elevated temperature and turbidity may favour predators rather than prey.
Date made available2023

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