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CCE - Center of Cognitive Ethology / CKE - Centrum kognitivní etologie
Faculty of Science, University of South Bohemia,
Branišovská 31, 370 05, České Budějovice, Czech Republic (map).
Recognition of predators and other dangerous
Behavioural ecology is currently
a mainstream behavioural science based on the neo-Darwinian evolutionary theory.
Therefore, its explanatory power sharply increases with the strength of
selective pressure affecting studied behaviour. The ability to avoid dangerous
organisms is, without any doubt, one of the most important preconditions for
fitness in wild animals (e. g. Curio 1993). Perhaps most often, animals are
confronted by their predators. However, not only predators may threaten animals.
Unpalatable and poisonous prey represents an enemy as well.
Both the above-mentioned cases are connected with
the necessity of reliable recognition of a potencial enemy that has to precede
an efficacious response. Indeed, unrecognising of a dangerous animal can result
fatally. On the other hand, the evaluation of a harmless animal as a threatening
one handicaps as well. Above all, antipredatory behaviour is always costly
keeping from other behavioural activities (e.g. feeding) at least. The active
defence (escape as well as mobbing) depletes energy resource even more.
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