Affiliation: Biological and Biomedical Sciences Program
People are born both with a general fear response for threatening stimuli (Ohman 2009) and an ability to learn from experience (Olsson 2007) and from others (Bossan et al 2015). Here, I describe a population genetic model I created during my SURF fellowship in 2022
that considers a trade-off between these two fear-acquisition strategies (innate vs learned) when considering to what degree each strategy evolves: while innate fear does not carry the risk of requiring a predator-prey interaction, it may be too easily triggered because this response is less specific. I ask, how does this trade-off affect the evolution of innate and learned fear-acquisition strategies, and how is the evolution influenced by factors such as predator density, predator threat level, and environmental stability? This presentation describes the empirical justification and beginnings of this model. The data collection and analysis will be conducted during my honors thesis.