Anti-predator behavior of squid throughout ontogeny

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Squid utilize an array of complex anti-predator behaviors, which provide advantages to avoid high predation pressure. Although there are morphological and ecological differences among paralarval, juvenile and adult squid, no studies have examined how anti-predator behavior changes through life history stages in cephalopods. The goal of this study was to (1) document how anti-predator behavior in squid changes throughout ontogeny and (2) measure kinematic variables associated with squid-predator interactions to analyze the behavioral cues that trigger anti-predator responses. Anti-predator responses in squid were studied in a series of predator-prey trials using high-speed videography. All life histories of squid exhibited some escape jetting in response to predators, but paralarvae exhibited far fewer escape responses relative to juveniles and adults, and did not demonstrate posturing or inking behavior. For 65% of the interactions, paralarvae used stereotyped behaviors such as swimming in repetitive circles and spirals, rather than escape jetting, and clear body patterning during predator encounters. Inking responses in juveniles and adults were associated with significantly higher predator approach velocities and closer predator-squid distances when compared with postural responses. Older squid were more likely to demonstrate the banded body pattern, and the 'pseudomorph' ink shape was most commonly used. The observed differences in anti-predator behavior throughout ontogeny indicate that paralarvae rely on stereotyped swimming behaviors and translucent coloration to avoid capture, while juvenile and adults use kinematic cues of the predator approach to determine whether posturing, inking and escape jetting, or a combination of the two is the most suitable anti-predator behavior.

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York, C. A., & Bartol, I. K. (2016). Anti-predator behavior of squid throughout ontogeny. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, 480, 26–35.

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