Meeting Abstract

117.2  Monday, Jan. 7  Corticosterone responsiveness and behavioral phenotype reveal learned antipredator behavior is sex specific in Florida scrub-jays (Aphelocoma coerulescens) JONES, B.C.*; BEBUS, S.E.; SMALL, T.W.; BATEMAN, P.W.; SCHOECH, S.J.; Univ. of Memphis; Univ. of Memphis; Univ. of Memphis; Archbold Biological Station; Univ. of Memphis

The extent to which antipredator behavior is learned, and the mechanisms that facilitate this learning, remain largely unexplored. Glucocorticoids, corticosterone (CORT) in birds, are released in response to stressful stimuli, including perception of a predator. Elevated CORT facilitates physiological and behavioral changes that enhance survival and memory, thus, CORT may mediate antipredator behavior learning. Florida scrub-jays (FSJ) exhibit repeatable intraspecific variation in plasma CORT levels in response to a stressor, which correlates with degree of neophobic behavior. Flight initiation distance (FID; the distance from an approaching intruder at which an individual flees) is used to investigate an animal’s response to an intruder, but may also reflect an aspect of an individual’s personality. We tested two hypotheses: 1) FSJs have the capacity to learn antipredator behavior and 2) CORT responsiveness and behavioral phenotype are predictive of antipredator behavior. We developed a model to test for, and compare CORT responsiveness and behavioral phenotype to, learned antipredator behavior in free-living FSJs. Forty-six individuals, who were previously exposed to an artificial novel "predator", displayed greater FIDs than forty-five naïve controls. Further, FID and the degree of neophobia were positively correlated in males, yet negatively correlated in females. Preliminary analysis of CORT responsiveness suggests a negative correlation with FID. These data indicate FSJs can learn to associate a novel threat after a single exposure, and that behavioral phenotype and antipredator behavior covary in a sex-specific manner.