Chemical signals from predators' urine warns prey of impending doom
“Psssst, mud crabs, time to hide because blue crabs are coming to eat you!”
That’s the warning the prey get from the predators’ urine when it spikes with high concentrations of two chemicals, which researchers have identified in a new study.
Beyond decoding crab-eat-crab alarm triggers, pinpointing these compounds for the first time opens new doors to understanding how chemicals invisibly regulate marine wildlife. Insights from the study by investigators at the Georgia Institute of Technology, including Petit Institute researcher Julia Kubanek, could someday contribute to better management of crab and oyster fisheries, and help specify which pollutants upset them.
In coastal marshes, these urinary alarm chemicals, trigonelline and homarine, help to regulate the ecological balance of who eats how many of whom – and not just crabs. Read the entire story right here.