Data from: Predators inhibit brain cell proliferation in natural populations of electric fish, Brachyhypopomus occidentals
Dunlap, Kent D. et al. (2016), Data from: Predators inhibit brain cell proliferation in natural populations of electric fish, Brachyhypopomus occidentals, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.3rd2v
Compared to laboratory environments, complex natural environments promote brain cell proliferation and neurogenesis. Predators are one important feature of many natural environments, and, in the laboratory, predatory stimuli tend to inhibit brain cell proliferation. Often, laboratory predator stimuli also elevate plasma glucocorticoids, which can then reduce brain cell proliferation. However, it is unknown how natural predators affect cell proliferation or whether glucocorticoids mediate the neurogenic response to natural predators. We examined brain cell proliferation in six populations of the electric fish, Brachyhypopomus occidentalis, exposed to three forms of predator stimuli: a) natural variation in the density of predatory catfish, b) tail injury, presumably from predation attempts, and c) the acute stress of capture. Populations with higher predation pressure had lower density of proliferating (PCNA+) cells, and fish with injured tails had lower proliferating cell density than those with intact tails. However, plasma cortisol did not vary at the populationlevel according to predation pressure or at the individual level according to tail injury. Capture stress significantly increased cortisol, but only marginally decreased cell proliferation. Thus, it appears that the presence of natural predators inhibits brain cell proliferation, but not via mechanisms that depend on changes in basal cortisol levels. This study is the first demonstration of predator-induced alteration of brain cell proliferation in a free-living vertebrate.