The diel activity of crucian carp, Carassius carassius, in relation to chemical cues from predators
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Chemical cues from piscivorous fish and prey alarm substances often cause rapid fright responses in prey. However little is known of how piscivore-related chemical cues affect prey behaviour over periods longer than a few hours. Here we have investigated how chemical cues from piscivorous northern pike, Esox lucius, affect habitat choice and diel activity of crucian carp, Carassius carassius, over an extended period 11 days. At the beginning of the experiment control fish were nocturnal while fish in the pike cue treatment were aperiodic. After 11 days, control fish had become more strongly nocturnal and displayed two activity peaks during early and late night whereas fish in the pike cue treatment were still aperiodic with no activity peaks. Habitat choice was aperiodic in both treatments throughout the experiment. In both treatments, more fish were found in the vegetation zone than in the open habitat. This was most pronounced when pike cues were present. These results demonstrate that short-term anti-predator responses to chemical cues from predators can translate into long-term adjustments of diel periodicity. Further, the results did not support the idea that crucian carp should switch to nocturnal activity in response to visually hunting predators. Control fish were nocturnal and chemical cues from pike did not make this pattern more pronounced.