Effects of predation pressure on the cognitive ability of the poeciliid Brachyraphis episcopi

Culum Brown*, Victoria A. Braithwaite

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

123 Citations (Scopus)


Variable levels of predation pressure are known to have significant impacts on the evolutionary ecology of different populations and can affect life-history traits, behavior, and morphology. To date, no studies have directly investigated the impact of predation pressure on cognitive ability. Here we use a system of replicate rivers, each with sites of high- and low-predation pressure, to investigate how this ecological variable affects learning ability in a tropical poeciliid, Brachyraphis episcopi. We used a spatial task to assess the cognitive ability of eight populations from four independent streams (four high- and four low-predation populations). The fish were required to locate a foraging patch in one of four compartments by utilizing spatial cues. Fish from areas of low-predation pressure had shorter foraging latencies, entered fewer compartments before discovering the reward patch and navigated more actively within the maze, than fish from high-predation sites. The difference in performance is discussed with reference to forage patch predictability, inter- and intraspecific foraging competition, geographic variation in predation pressure, boldness-shyness traits, and brain lateralization.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)482-487
Number of pages6
JournalBehavioral Ecology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Brachyraphis episcopi
  • Cognition
  • Evolution
  • Poeciliids
  • Predators
  • Prey


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