JSU Student Symposium 2020
Using a Complex Chemical Landscape to Find an Ideal Habitat under Predation Threat



Faculty Mentor

Sarah Wofford, Biology


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Houston Cole Library, 11th Floor | 10:45-10:55 a.m.


Animals rely on information from their environment to detect predators, prey, and resources which can significantly increase fitness. Chemical signaling is widely used in aquatic animals and can influence decision making under stressful conditions. For example, aquatic animals, like crayfish, use chemical information to find mates, engage in contests over resources, and to manage access to resources (i.e. determine risks verses rewards). During this study, a habitat selection assay was used to study the relative importance of an attractive cue (i.e. shelter and food) to an aversive cue (e.g. predator odor). Crayfish were placed into a specialized arena with a gravel substrate and identical shelters on each side of the arena. Odors were delivered to each side of the arena using a gravity-fed system. Control trials used pre-conditioned, dechlorinated tap water as the odor. Treatment one trial introduced a predator odor into one side of the arena and tap water to the other. Treatment two introduced the same odors at random with a high protein diet located in the same habitat as the predator odor. Individuals could acclimate to the arena for 5 minutes prior to the start of odor delivery. Individuals were then allowed to explore for 15 minutes and were video recorded from above. Videos were scored for initial habitat choice and total time spent in each habitat section. As expected, the introduction of both an attractive and aversive stimulus influenced the crayfish’s decision on habitat selection. These results support previous studies that suggest sensory landscapes can be complex and influence an individual’s decisions.


student presentations, student posters, crayfish, chemical signaling


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Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Presentation Information

Adams, A. (2020, 12 February). Using a complex chemical landscape to find an ideal habitat under predation threat. Paper presented at the 2020 JSU Student Symposium, Jacksonville State University, Jacksonville, AL.

Using a Complex Chemical Landscape to Find an Ideal Habitat under Predation Threat