Experimental design showing parental and pup treatments. All assayed pups experienced a parental treatment via their mothers (in utero) exposure and a pup treatment directly in the open-field arena: C, control bedding; AP, alarm pheromone treatment with weasel-exposed bank vole bedding; and PO, predation odor treatment with weasel bedding

Experimental design showing parental and pup treatments. All assayed pups experienced a parental treatment via their mothers (in utero) exposure and a pup treatment directly in the open-field arena: C, control bedding; AP, alarm pheromone treatment with weasel-exposed bank vole bedding; and PO, predation odor treatment with weasel bedding

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In the predator–prey arms race, survival-enhancing adaptive behaviors are essential. Prey can perceive predator presence directly from visual, auditory, or chemical cues. Non-lethal encounters with a predator may trigger prey to produce special body odors, alarm pheromones, informing conspecifics about predation risks. Recent studies suggest that p...

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Rodents in the wild are under nearly constant threat of aerial predation and thus have evolved adaptive innate defensive behaviors, such as freezing or fleeing, in response to a perceived looming threat. Here we employed an ethologically relevant paradigm to study innate fear of aerial predators in male and female rats during a goal-oriented task....

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... Stress responses, and in particular corticosterone production, represent another mechanism through which PO or CAC can affect prey reproduction and fitness. Exposure to either type of olfactory cue of predation risk can be transmitted from mother to offspring, influencing offspring growth (Berghänel et al., 2017), development (Hayward and Wingfield, 2004), behavior (St-Cyr et al., 2017;Sievert et al., 2020), and survival (Chin et al., 2009). A mother and fetus are connected prenatally via the placenta and postnatally via lactation; both serve as transmission routes for hormones, and thus information about the environment (Sullivan et al., 2011;Sheriff et al., 2017;Kuijper and Johnstone, 2018). ...
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Prey animals can assess the risks predators present in different ways. For example, direct cues produced by predators can be used, but also signals produced by prey conspecifics that have engaged in non-lethal predator-prey interactions. These non-lethal interactions can thereby affect the physiology, behavior, and survival of prey individuals, and may affect offspring performance through maternal effects. We investigated how timing of exposure to predation-related cues during early development affects offspring behavior after weaning. Females in the laboratory were exposed during pregnancy or lactation to one of three odor treatments: (1) predator odor (PO) originating from their most common predator, the least weasel, (2) odor produced by predator-exposed conspecifics, which we call conspecific alarm cue (CAC), or (3) control odor (C). We monitored postnatal pup growth, and we quantified foraging and exploratory behaviors of 4-week-old pups following exposure of their mothers to each of the three odour treatments. Exposure to odors associated with predation risk during development affected the offspring behavior, but the timing of exposure, i.e., pre-vs. postnatally, had only a weak effect. The two non-control odors led to different behavioral changes: an attraction to CAC and an avoidance of PO. Additionally, pup growth was affected by an interaction between litter size and maternal treatment, again regardless of timing. Pups from the CAC maternal treatment grew faster in larger litters; pups from the PO maternal treatment tended to grow faster in smaller litters. Thus, in rodents, offspring growth and behavior are seemingly influenced differently by the type of predation risk perceived by their mothers.
... Several of the aforementioned species live in social groups, so the secretion of AP serves to warn the group, family or colony. Previous behavioural studies have already shown alarm pheromone effects on reproductive behaviour in bank voles, specifically differences in the number of offspring , the amount of parturitions (Sievert et al. 2019), and several transgenerational effects (Sievert et al. 2020). While the effects of an alarm pheromone exposure have been studied, the actual nature remains unclear. ...
... Each box contained one odour cue, control (C), predator odour (PO) or alarm pheromone (AP). The 1 dl odour cues were obtained as described in Sievert et al. (2020), i.e. clean wood shaving, soiled bedding from weasel cages, and bedding from weasel exposed voles, respectively. Each box contained further a seed tray for determining foraging efficiency of voles under each treatment using the giving-up-density (GUD) method (Brown 1988) (explained in the next paragraph). ...
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... On the other hand, we speculate that the stress odors of K. odontotarsus might be alarm cues. Studies across different taxa have indicated that when individuals perceive alarm cues from conspecifics, they generally reduce their activity [23,24] or avoid the odor source [25][26][27]. For example, study with two neotropical treefrogs (genus Boana) suggested that both species interrupted their vocal activity and decreased call rate in response to conspecific distress calls, which might represent an alarm cue [28]. ...
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