Alarm substances elicit behavioural responses in a wide range of animals but effects on early embryonic development are virtually unknown. Here we investigated whether skin injury-induced alarm substances caused physiological responses in embryos produced by two Danio species (Danio rerio and Danio albolineatus). Both species showed more rapid physiological development in the presence of alarm substance, although there were subtle differences between them: D. rerio had advanced muscle contraction and heart function, whereas D. albolineatus had advanced heart function only. Hence, alarm cues from injured or dying fish may be of benefit to their offspring, inducing physiological responses and potentially increasing their inclusive fitness.
Keywords: alarm substance, Danio, development, inclusive fitness