Data from: Trust thy neighbour in times of trouble: background risk alters how tadpoles release and respond to disturbance cues
Bairos-Novak, Kevin R. et al. (2017), Data from: Trust thy neighbour in times of trouble: background risk alters how tadpoles release and respond to disturbance cues, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.k272c
In aquatic environments, uninjured prey escaping a predator release chemical disturbance cues into the water. However, it is unknown whether these cues are a simple physiological by-product of increased activity or whether they represent a social signal that is under some control by the sender. Here, we exposed wood frog tadpoles (Lithobates sylvaticus) to either a high or low background risk environment and tested their responses to disturbance cues (or control cues) produced by tadpoles from high-risk or low-risk backgrounds. We found an interaction between risk level associated with the cue donor and cue recipient. While disturbance cues from low-risk donors did not elicit an antipredator response in low-risk receivers, they did in high-risk receivers. In addition, disturbance cues from high-risk donors elicited a marked antipredator response in both low- and high-risk receivers. The response of high-risk receivers to disturbance cues from high-risk donors was commensurate to other treatments, indicating an all-or-nothing response. Our study provides evidence of differential production and perception of social cues and provides insights into their function and evolution in aquatic vertebrates. Given the widespread nature of disturbance cues in aquatic prey, there may exist a social signalling system that remains virtually unexplored by ecologists.