Chemical Cues and Reducing the Risk of Predation



The use of chemical cues to recognize elevated risk of predation is widespread in crustaceans and the responses to chemical cues can decrease the risk of predation. There are multiple sources of such cues: odors from damaged conspecifics, damaged heterospecifics, conspecifics digested by predators, predator odors, and odors associated with predation risk by learning. The most common responses to such odors are behaviors such as decreased movement or movement away from the source of cues, but in small planktonic species development of defensive morphologies such as spines also occurs. When faced with combinations of chemical cues, such as danger cues and food cues, most crustaceans respond primarily to the danger cue. Starvation can eliminate the dominance of danger cues over food cues. In the crab Heterozius rotundifrons, there is no response to chemical cues indicating increased predation risk unless tactile cues are also detected. Learned associations can result in crustaceans showing responses to cues that in themselves may be weak indicators of elevated predation risk. More field work is needed to document the extent to which patterns reported from the laboratory are important in nature.


Predation Risk Blue Crab Hermit Crab Spiny Lobster Predator Odor 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Acquistapace P, Calamai L, Hazlett BA, Gherardi F (2005) Source of alarm substances in crayfish and their preliminary chemical characterization. Can J Zool 83:1624–1630CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Acquistapace P, Daniels WH, Gherardi F (2004) Behavioral responses to ‘alarm odors’ in potentially invasive and non-invasive crayfish species from aquaculture ponds. Behaviour 141:691–702CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Acquistapace P, Hazlett BA, Gherardi F (2003) Unsuccessful predation and learning of predator cues by crayfish. J Crustacean Biol 23:364–370CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Banks J, Dinnel P (2000) Settlement behavior of Dungeness crab (Cancer magister Dana, 1852) megalopae in the presence of the shore crab Hemigrapsus (Decapoda, Brachyura). Crustaceana 73:223–234CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Blake MA, Hart PJB (1993) The behavioural responses of juvenile signal crayfish Pacifastacus leniusculus to stimuli from perch and eels. Freshwater Biol 29:89–97CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Briones-Fourzán P, Ramírez-Zaldívar E, Lozano-Álvarez E (2008) Influence of conspecific and heterospecific aggregation cues and alarm odors on shelter choice by syntopic spiny lobsters. Biol Bull 215:182–190CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Brooks WR (1991) Chemical recognition by hermit crabs of their symbiotic sea anemones and a predatory octopus. Hydrobiologia 216(217):291–295CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Boudreau B, Bourget E, Simard Y (1993) Behavioural responses of competent lobster postlarvae to odor plumes. Mar Biol 117:63–69CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bouwma P, Hazlett BA (2001) Integration of multiple predator cues by the crayfish Orconectes propinquus. Anim Behav 61:771–776CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Carreau-Green ND, Mirza RS, Martínez NL, Pyle GG (2008) The ontogeny of chemically mediated antipredator responses of fathead minnows Pimephales promelas. J Fish Biol 73:2390–2401CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Chiussi R (2003) Orientation and shape discrimination in juveniles and adults of the mangrove crab Aratus pisonii (H. Milne Edwards, 1837): effect of predator and chemical cues. Mar Freshw Behav Phy 36:41–50CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Chiussi R, Diaz H (2002) Orientation of the fiddler crab, Uca cumulanta: responses to chemical and visual cues. J Chem Ecol 28:1787–1796CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Chivers DP, Smith RJF (1998) Chemical signaling in aquatic predator-prey systems: a review and prospectus. Ecoscience 5:338–352Google Scholar
  14. Chivers DP, Brown GE, Smith RJF (1996) The evolution of chemical alarm signals: attracting predators benefits alarm signal senders. Am Nat 148:649–659CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Chivers DP, Wisenden BD, Hindman CJ, Michalak TA, Kusch RC, Kaminskyj SGW, Jack KL, Ferrari MCO, Pollock RJ, Halbgewachs CF, Pollock MS, Alemadi S, James CT, Savaloja RK, Goater CP, Corwin A, Mirza RS, Kiesecker JM, Brown GE, Adrian JC Jr, Krone PH, Blaustein AR, Mathis A (2007) Epidermal ‘alarm substance’ cells of fishes are maintained by non-alarm functions: possible defence against pathogens, parasites and UVB radiation. Proc Biol Sci 274:2611–2620CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. Ciruna KA, Dunham DW, Harvey HH (1995) Detection and response to food versus conspecific tissue in the crayfish Cambarus bartonii (Fabricius, 1798) (Decapoda, Cambaridae). Crustaceana 68:782–788Google Scholar
  17. Cohen JH, Forward RB Jr (2003) Ctenophore kairomones and modified aminosugar disaccharides alter the shadow response in a larval crab. J Plankton Res 25:203–213CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Cohen JB, Forward RB Jr (2005) Photobehavior as an inducible defense in the marine copepod Calanopia americana. Limnol Oceanogr 50:1269–1277CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Diaz H, Orihuela B, Forward RB Jr, Rittschof D (1999) Orientation of blue crab, Callinectes sapidus (Rathbun), megalopae: responses to visual and chemical cues. J Exp Mar Biol Ecol 233:25–40CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Diaz H, Orihuela B, Forward RB Jr, Rittschof D (2003) Orientation of juvenile blue crabs, Callinectes sapidus Rathbun, to currents, chemicals, and visual cues. J Crustacean Biol 23:15–22CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Ferner MC, Smee DL, Chang YP (2005) Cannibalistic crabs respond to the scent of injured conspecifics: danger or dinner? Mar Ecol Prog Ser 300:193–200CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Fine-Levy JB, Girardot MN, Derby CD, Daniel PC (1988) Differential associative conditioning and olfactory discrimination in the spiny lobster Panulirus argus. Behav Neural Biol 49:315–331CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. Forward RB Jr, Tankersley RA, Rittschof D (2001) Cues for metamorphosis of brachyuran crabs: An overview. Am Zool 41:1108–1122CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Forward RB Jr, Tankersley RA, Smith KA, Welch JM (2003) Effects of chemical cues on orientation of blue crab, Callinectes sapidus, megalopae in flow: implications for location of nursery areas. Mar Biol 142:747–756Google Scholar
  25. Gherardi F, Acquistapace P, Hazlett BA, Whisson G (2002) Behavioural responses to alarm odours in indigenous and non-indigenous crayfish species: a case study from Western Australia. Mar Freshwater Res 53:93–98CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Harvell CD (1990) The ecology and evolution of inducible defenses. Q Rev Biol 65:323–340CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. Havel JE, Dodson SI (1984) Chaoborus predation on typical and spined morphs of Daphnia pulex: behavioral observations. Limnol Oceanog 29:487–494CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Hazlett BA (1972) Ritualization in marine crustacean. In: Winn HE, Olla BL (eds) Behavior of Marine Animals, Vol. 1. Plenum Press, New York, pp 97–125Google Scholar
  29. Hazlett BA (1985) Disturbance pheromones in the crayfish Orconectes virilis. J Chem Ecol 11:1695–1711CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Hazlett BA (1990a) Source and nature of disturbance-chemical system in crayfish. J Chem Ecol 16:2263–2275CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Hazlett BA (1990b) Disturbance pheromone in the hermit crab Calcinus laevimanus (Randall, 1840). Crustaceana 58:314–316CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Hazlett BA (1994) Alarm responses in the crayfish Orconectes virilis and Orconectes propinquus. J Chem Ecol 20:1525–1535CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Hazlett BA (1995) Behavioral plasticity in crustacean: why not more? J Exp Mar Biol Ecol 193:57–66CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Hazlett BA (1996a) Organisation of hermit crab behaviour: responses to multiple chemical inputs. Behaviour 133:619–642CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Hazlett BA (1996b) Reproductive behavior of the hermit crab Clibanarius vittatus. Bull Mar Sci 58:668–674Google Scholar
  36. Hazlett BA (1997) The organization of behaviour in hermit crabs: Responses to variation in stimulus strength. Behaviour 134:59–70CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Hazlett BA (1999) Responses to multiple chemical cues by the crayfish Orconectes virilis. Behaviour 136:161–177Google Scholar
  38. Hazlett BA (2000a) Responses to single and multiple sources of chemical cues by New Zealand crustaceans. Mar Freshw Behav Physiol 34:1–20CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Hazlett BA (2000b) Information use by an invading species: do invaders respond more to alarm odors than native species? Biol Invasions 2:289–294CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Hazlett BA (2003a) The effects of starvation on crayfish responses to alarm odor. Ethology 109:587–592CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Hazlett BA (2003b) Predator recognition and learned irrelevance in the crayfish Orconectes virilis. Ethology 109:765–780CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Hazlett BA (2004) Alternative tactics and responses to conflicting inputs in the porcellanid crab Petrolisthes elongates. Mar Freshw Behav Physiol 37:173–177CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Hazlett BA (2007) Conditioned reinforcement in the crayfish Orconectes rusticus. Behaviour 144:847–859CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Hazlett BA, Acquistapace P, Gherardi F (2002) Difference in memory capabilities in invasive and native crayfish. J Crustacean Biol 22:439–448CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Hazlett BA, Burba A, Gherardi F, Acquistapace P (2003) Invasive species of crayfish use a broader range of predation-risk cues than native species. Biol Invasions 5:223–228CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Hazlett BA, McLay C (2000) Contingencies in the behaviour of the crab Heterozius rotundifrons. Anim Behav 59:965–974CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  47. Hazlett BA, McLay C (2005a) Responses to predation risk: alternative strategies in the crab Heterozius rotundifrons. Anim Behav 69:967–972CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Hazlett BA, McLay C (2005b) Responses of the crab Heterozius rotundifrons to heterospecific chemical alarm cues: phylogeny vs. ecological overlap. J Chem Ecol 31:683–689CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Hazlett BA, McLay C (2005b) Responses of the crab Heterozius rotundifrons to heterospecific chemical alarm cues: phylogeny vs. ecological overlap. J Chem Ecol 31:683–689CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Hazlett BA, Lawler S, Edney G (2007) Agonistic behaviour of the crayfish Euastacus armatus and Cherax destructor. Mar Freshw Behav Physiol 40:257–266CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Hazlett BA, Winn HE (1962) Sound production and associated behavior of Bermuda crustaceans (Panulirus, Gonodactylus, Alpheus and Synalpheus). Crustaceana 4:25–38CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Hews DK (1988) Alarm response in larval western toads, Bufo boreas: release of larval chemicals by a natural predator and its effect on predator capture efficiency. Anim Behav 36:126–133CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Hirvonen H, Holopainen S, Lempiäinen N, Selin M, Tulonen J (2007) Sniffing the trade-off: effects of eel odours on nocturnal foraging activity of native and introduced crayfish juveniles. Mar Freshw Behav Physiol 40:213–218CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Keller TA, Powell I, Weissburg M (2003) Role of olfactory appendages in chemically mediated orientation of blue crabs. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 261:217–231CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Koops MA (2004) Reliability and the value of information. Anim Behav 67:103–111CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Katz JN, Rittschof D (1993) Alarm/investigation responses of hermit crabs as related to shell fit and crab size. Mar Freshw Behav Physiol 22:171–182CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Lima SL, Dill LM (1990) Behavioral decisions made under the risk of predation: a review and prospectus. Can J Zool 68:619–640CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Mathis A, Smith RJF (1993) Chemical alarm signals increase the survival time of fathead minnows (Pimephales promelas) during encounters with northern pike (Esox lucius). Behav Ecol 4:260–265CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Mima A, Wada S, Goshima S (2003) Antipredator defence of the hermit crab Pagurus filholi induced by predatory crabs. Oikos 102:104–110CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Mirza RS, Chivers DP (2001) Learned recognition of heterospecific alarm signals: the importance of a mixed predator diet. Ethology 107:1007–1018CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Mirza RS, Chivers DP (2003) Response of juvenile rainbow trout to varying concentrations of chemical alarm cue: response thresholds and survival during encounters with predators. Can J Zool 81:88–95CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Moore P, Crimaldi J (2004) Odor landscapes and animal behavior: tracking odor plumes in different physical worlds. J Marine Syst 49:55–64CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Moore PA, Zimmer-Faust RK, Bement SP, Weissburg MJ, Parrish JM, Gerhardt GA (1992) Measurement of microscale patchiness in a turbulent aquatic odor plume using a semiconductor-based microprobe. Biol Bull 183:138–142CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Persons MH, Walker SE, Rypstra AL, Marshall SD (2001) Wolf spider predator avoidance tactics and survival in the presence of diet-associated predator cues (Aranead: Lycosidae). Anim Behav 61:43–51CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  65. Rittschof D (1992) Chemosensation in the daily life of crabs. Am Zool 32:363–369Google Scholar
  66. Rittschof D (1993) Body odors and neutral-basic peptide mimics: a review of responses by marine organisms. Am Zool 33:487–493Google Scholar
  67. Rittschof D, Cohen JH (2004) Crustacean peptide and peptide-like pheromones and kairomones. Peptides 25:1503–1516CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  68. Rittschof D, Hazlett BA (1997) Behavioural responses of hermit crabs to shell cues, predator haemolymph and body odour. J Mar Biol Assoc UK 77:737–751CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Rittschof D, Tsai DW, Massey PG, Blanco L, Kueber GL Jr, Haas RJ Jr (1992) Chemical mediation of behavior in hermit crabs: alarm and aggregation cues. J Chem Ecol 18:959–984CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Rosen E, Schwarz B, Palmer AR (2009) Smelling the difference: hermit crab responses to predatory and nonpredatory crabs. Anim Behav 78:691–695CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Sakamoto R, Ito A, Wada S (2006) Combined effect of risk type and activity rhythm on anti-predator response of the shore crab Gaetice depressus (Crustacea: Grapsidae). J Mar Biol Assoc UK 86:1401–1405CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Shabani S, Kamio M, Derby CD (2008) Spiny lobsters detect conspecific blood-borne alarm cues exclusively through olfactory sensilla. J Exp Bio 211:2600–2608CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Shave CR, Townsend CR, Crowl TA (1994) Anti-predator behaviours of a freshwater crayfish (Paranephrops zealandicus) to a native and an introduced predator. New Zeal J Ecol 18:1–10Google Scholar
  74. Sih A (1992) Prey uncertainty and the balancing of antipredator and feeding needs. Am Nat 139:1052–1069CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Smee DL, Ferner MC, Weissburg MJ (2008) Alteration of sensory abilities regulates the spatial scale of nonlethal predator effects. Oecologia 156:399–409CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  76. Smith RJF (1989) The response of Asterropteryx semipunctatus and Gnatholepis anjerensis (Pisces, Gobiidae) to chemical stimuli from injured conspecifics, an alarm response in gobies. Ethology 81:279–290CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Smith RJF (1992) Alarm signals in fishes. Rev Fish Biol Fisher 2:33–63CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. Spitze K (1992) Predator-mediated plasticity of prey life history and morphology: Chaoborus americanus predation on Daphnia pulex. Am Nat 139:229–247CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. Stabell OB, Ogbebo F, Primicerio R (2003) Inducible defences in Daphnia depend on latent alarm signals from conspecific prey activated in predators. Chem Senses 28:141–153CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  80. Tomba AM, Keller TA, Moore PA (2001) Foraging in complex odor landscapes: chemical orientation strategies during stimulation by conflicting chemical cues. J N Am Benthol Soc 20:211–222CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  81. Van de Meutter F, Stoks R, De Meester L (2004) Behavioral linkage of pelagic prey and littoral predators: microhabitat selection by Daphnia induced by damselfly larvae. Oikos 107:265–272CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  82. Williams DD, Moore KA (1985) The role of semiochemicals in benthic community relationships of the lotic amphipod Gammarus pseudolimnaeus: a laboratory analysis. Oikos 44:280–286CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  83. Wisenden BD (2000) Olfactory assessment of predation risk in the aquatic environment. Phil Trans R Soc B 355:1205–1208CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  84. Wisenden BD, Cline A, Sparkes TC (1999) Survival benefit to antipredator behavior in the amphipod Gammarus minus (Crustacea: Amphipoda) in response to injury-released chemical cues from conspecifics and heterospecifics. Ethology 105:407–414CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  85. Wisenden BD, Rugg ML, Korpi NL, Fuselier LC (2009) Estimates of active time of chemical alarm cues in a cyprinid fish and am amphipod crustacean. Behaviour 146:1423–1442CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  86. Zulandt Schneider RA, Moore PA (2000) Urine as a source of conspecific disturbance signals in the crayfish Procambarus clarkii. J Exp Biol 203:765–771PubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Ecology and Evolutionary BiologyUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA

Personalised recommendations