Recently introduced mammalian predators have had devastating consequences for biotas of archipelagos that were isolated from mammals over evolutionary time. However, understanding which antipredator mechanisms are lost through relaxed selection, and how they influence the ability of prey to respond to novel predatory threats, is limited. The varying effects on native lizard populations of the relatively recent and patchy history of mammalian introductions to New Zealand’s islands provide an opportunity to examine the consequences of relaxed selection.
The anti-predator behaviours of a New Zealand freshwater crayfish (Paranephrops zealandicus) to the native long-finned eel (Anguilla dieffenbachii) and the introduced brown trout (Salmo trutta) were investigated. Crayfish modified their behaviour in the presence of both trout and eels. However, a significantly greater number of defensive chela displays and swimming responses were made to eels than trout. Crayfish were able to use chemical cues from skin mucus to detect eels but not trout.