Learning by embryos and the ghost of predation future
Most research on the effects of exposure to stressful stimuli during embryonic development has focused on post-embryonic behaviour that appears to be abnormal or maladaptive. Here, we tested whether exposure to some stressful stimuli (predatory cues) can lead to post-embryonic behaviour that is adaptive. When eggs of ringed salamanders (Ambystoma annulatum) were exposed to chemical cues from predators, post-hatching larvae showed reduced activity and greater shelter-seeking behaviour; larvae that had been exposed to control cues did not show these behaviours. In addition, wood frog (Rana sylvatica)tadpoles learned to respond to chemical cues from unfamiliar predators with danger based on embryonic conditioning. Therefore, if embryonic experience is a good predictor of future risk, learning associated with exposure to negative stimuli during development may be adaptive.
Ambystoma annulatum, Embryos, Learning, Predation, Rana sylvatica
Mathis, Alicia, Maud CO Ferrari, Nathan Windel, François Messier, and Douglas P. Chivers. "Learning by embryos and the ghost of predation future." Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 275, no. 1651 (2008): 2603-2607.
Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences