Aborn, David; Kuhajda, Bernard
College of Arts and Sciences
University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
Place of Publication
Organisms use cues to assess their environment; however, environmental changes can create a mismatch between cues and the conditions with which they were historically associated. An evolutionary trap is when past selection pressures shaped cue-response systems that were once adaptive for an organism but no longer are. Invasive species are one cause of evolutionary traps, and the Barrens Topminnow (BTM), Fundulus julisia serves as an example of an imperiled species trapped by the introduction of an invasive predator: the Western Mosquitofish (WMF), Gambusia affinis. This study used conditioning to help the BTM escape its evolutionary trap, and data showed that conditioned fish responded significantly different to the presentation of WMF compared to control fish, and sampling following release of BTMs resulted recapturing exclusively conditioned individuals. These results suggest that conditioning may encourage BTM recognition of WMF as a predator and increase long-term survival of the BTM.
I would like to thank the Tennessee Aquarium Conservation Institute, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Conservation Fisheries Incorporated, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, especially the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, for contributions that helped make my project possible. I would also like to thank all of the graduate students in my department, and my family and friends for their support and encouragement. This study was approved by the University of Tennessee Chattanooga IACUC (IACUC #: 1017HMK-01).
M. S.; A thesis submitted to the faculty of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the degree of Master of Science.
Barrens topminnow; Western mosquitofish
vii, 47 leaves
Farnsley, Sarah, "Overcoming evolutionary history: conditioning the endangered Barrens topminnow to avoid predation by the invasive Western mosquitofish" (2014). Masters Theses and Doctoral Dissertations.