AbstractsBiology & Animal Science

Decision Making in Changing Sensory Landscapes

by Ana M Jurcak

Institution: Bowling Green State University
Department: Biological Sciences
Degree: MS
Year: 2014
Keywords: Biology; Ecology; Sensory landscapes; crayfish; alarm odor
Record ID: 2029735
Full text PDF: http://rave.ohiolink.edu/etdc/view?acc_num=bgsu1399367642


Animals make many ecological decisions such as foraging, mating and predator avoidance based on the information they extract from the sensory signals in their environment. Environmental stimuli which include the information animals' use for decision making can be called a sensory landscape. To investigate ecological decision making in complex sensory landscapes, we presented a crayfish with a choice of resource rich and resource poor habitats under different predatory conditions within a y-maze setting. A simulated predatory event (alarm odor) was alternately placed in either the resource rich or poor habitat to observe the impact of the predation event on the habitat choice and use. Habitats consisted of multiple food resources, multiple shelter resources or combined food and shelter resources. Trials were videotaped and crayfish behavior was analyzed for time spent in each habitat under different predatory and resource conditions. Results show that crayfish avoided the location of alarm odors, regardless of resource presence. Resource preference of crayfish differed among resources depending on the alarm odor location. Female and male crayfish made different decisions based on resource type and alarm odor location. Information from an animal's sensory landscape drives the decision making of an animal. Researchers need to understand the sensory environment of an animal in order to make the most accurate prediction on an animal's decision making and behavior. We suggest using a sensory landscape model, instead of a landscape of fear model, because organisms use the entire umwelt of stimuli to guide their decision on habitat and resource use