Geometrical model explains multiple preferred escape trajectories of fish

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Yuuki KawabataP. Domenici


To evade predators, many prey perform rapid escape movements. The resulting escape trajectory (ET) - measured as the angle of escape direction relative to the predator's approach path - plays a major role in avoiding predation. Previous geometrical models predict a single ET; however, many animals (fish and other animal taxa) show highly variable ETs with multiple preferred directions. Although such a high ET variability may confer unpredictability, preventing predators from adopting counter-strategies, the reasons why animals prefer specific multiple ETs remain unclear. Here, we constructed a novel geometrical model in which Tdiff (the time difference between the prey entering the safety zone and the predator reaching that entry point) is expected to be maximized. We tested this prediction by analyzing the escape responses of Pagrus major attacked by a dummy predator. At each initial body orientation of the prey relative to the predator, our model predicts a multimodal ET with an optimal ET at the maximum Tdiff (Tdiff,1) and a suboptimal ET at a second local maximum of Tdiff (Tdiff,2). Our experiments show that when Tdiff,1-Tdiff,2 is negligible, the prey uses optimal or suboptimal ETs to a similar extent, in line with the ide...Continue Reading

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