Defensive responses of cuttlefish to different teleost predators
Staudinger, Michelle D.
Buresch, Kendra C.
Mathger, Lydia M.
Ulmer, Kimberly M.
Hanlon, Roger T.
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We evaluated cuttlefish (Sepia officinalis) responses to three teleost predators: bluefish (Pomatomus saltatrix), summer flounder (Paralichthys dentatus), and black seabass (Centropristis striata). We hypothesized that the distinct body shapes, swimming behaviors, and predation tactics exhibited by the three fishes would elicit markedly different antipredator responses by cuttlefish. Over the course of 25 predator-prey behavioral trials, 3 primary and 15 secondary defense behaviors of cuttlefish were shown to predators. In contrast, secondary defenses were not shown during control trials in which predators were absent. With seabass—a benthic, sit-and-pursue predator—cuttlefish used flight and spent more time swimming in the water column than with other predators. With bluefish—an active, pelagic searching predator—cuttlefish remained closely associated with the substrate and relied more on cryptic behaviors. Startle (deimatic) displays were the most frequent secondary defense shown to seabass and bluefish, particularly the Dark eye ring and Deimatic spot displays. We were unable to evaluate secondary defenses by cuttlefish to flounder—a lie-and-wait predator—because flounder did not pursue cuttlefish or make attacks. Nonetheless, cuttlefish used primary defense during flounder trials, alternating between cryptic still and moving behaviors. Overall, our results suggest that cuttlefish may vary their behavior in the presence of different teleost predators: cryptic behaviors may be more important in the presence of active searching predators (e.g., bluefish), while conspicuous movements such as swimming in the water column and startle displays may be more prevalent with relatively sedentary, bottom-associated predators (e.g., seabass).
Author Posting. © Marine Biological Laboratory, 2013. This article is posted here by permission of Marine Biological Laboratory for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Biological Bulletin 225 (2013): 161-174.