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Can captive-bred American bullfrogs learn to avoid a model avian predator?

Teixeira, B and Young, RJ 2014, 'Can captive-bred American bullfrogs learn to avoid a model avian predator?' , acta ethologica, 17 (1) , pp. 15-22.

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Animals that are isolated from their natural predators may lose the ability to express antipredator behavior. The aim of this study was to test whether it would be possible to train captive-bred North American bullfrogs (Rana catesbeiana) to avoid a model avian predator and to measure their behavioral responses to this predator. We used 18 animals divided into two groups, trained (N = 6) and control (N = 12); these individuals were from a line that has been bred in captivity for at least 20 generations without predator contact. The trained group was exposed, individually, to 20 sequential antipredator training sessions, during which the presence of a model avian predator was paired with an aversive stimulus. The control group was exposed, individually, once only to the same model avian predator, but without the association of the aversive stimulus. Both groups were observed for 10 min after the presentation of the avian predator, during which their behavior was recorded using instantaneous recording of behavior. The results showed that, after only two training sessions, the trained bullfrogs started to express proper antipredator behavior: diving to the bottom of the tank, lying still, and eventually, learning to cover themselves in substrate (mud). However, continued training sessions provoked a varied response to antipredator training, which was undesirable as the effectiveness of their antipredator response varied. This study has shown that captive-bred bullfrogs were capable of learning antipredator behavior, despite having been bred for many generations in captivity with no predator contact.

Item Type: Article
Schools: Schools > School of Environment and Life Sciences
Journal or Publication Title: acta ethologica
Publisher: Springer Verlag
Refereed: Yes
ISSN: 0873-9749
Depositing User: S Rafiq
Date Deposited: 07 May 2014 11:59
Last Modified: 30 Nov 2015 23:54

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