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Sci Rep. 2012;2:728. doi: 10.1038/srep00728. Epub 2012 Oct 11.

Predator-prey role reversals, juvenile experience and adult antipredator behaviour.

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Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics, Department of Population Biology, University of Amsterdam, Science Park 904, 1098 XH Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


Although biologists routinely label animals as predators and prey, the ecological role of individuals is often far from clear. There are many examples of role reversals in predators and prey, where adult prey attack vulnerable young predators. This implies that juvenile prey that escape from predation and become adult can kill juvenile predators. We show that such an exposure of juvenile prey to adult predators results in behavioural changes later in life: after becoming adult, these prey killed juvenile predators at a faster rate than prey that had not been exposed. The attacks were specifically aimed at predators of the species to which they had been exposed. This suggests that prey recognize the species of predator to which they were exposed during their juvenile stage. Our results show that juvenile experience affects adult behaviour after a role reversal.

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