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Tracking the path from learning to innate predator recognition in Lymnaea stagnalis

Citation

Batabyal, Anuradha; Lukowiak, Ken (2022), Tracking the path from learning to innate predator recognition in Lymnaea stagnalis, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.ffbg79czm

Abstract

Organisms evolve adaptive strategies to adjust to the rapidly changing environmental stressors. Predation pressure is one of the strongest selective forces and organisms respond to predatory threats via innate and learned responses. We utilized a natural, experimental set-up, where two lakes –Stoney and Margo in Saskatchewan, Canada containing natural populations of the prey Lymnaea stagnalis differed in the presence and absence of an invasive, predatory Northern crayfish, Faxonius virilis. We exploited the contrast in the predation backgrounds of the snail populations from the two lakes to test, a) if predator-naïve snails learn to detect a novel invasive predator, b) predator recognition in predator-experienced snails is innate, and, c) if learning about a novel predator gets transmitted to the successive generations. We quantified predator fear memory formation using a higher-order learning paradigm called configural learning. We found that a) predator-naïve snails learned to recognize the novel predator even after a brief exposure to predator cues highlighting the role of learning in combating invasive predators, b) predator recognition in predator-experienced snails is innate, and, c) the learning and predator detection mechanisms is not transmitted to successive generations. The population variation observed in the predator-detection mechanism may be due to the activation and deactivation of a predatory template as a function of predator exposure in the environment. We find an interesting study system to address how fear learning occurs and the possible mechanism of the formation of innate fear recognition from a learned fear recognition.

Funding

Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, Award: 227993-2019