Induced morphological defenses in the wild: Predator effects on a mayfly, Drunella coloradensis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Phenotypic plasticity may enable organisms to optimize their phenotypes in environments that are heterogeneous over time or space. For example, inducible defenses are favored for prey populations faced with variable predation risk. We studied the impact of brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) on the development of defensive morphological characters in larvae of the mayfly, Drunella coloradensis, both in natural streams and in a series of experiments carried out in streamside, circular, flow-through chambers. Drunella larvae in natural streams with trout had Ion-er caudal filaments per unit body size and relatively heavier exoskeletons than Drunella in fishless streams. Female larvae that developed in fish streams were also significantly smaller and less fecund at metamorphosis than those living in fishless streams, suggesting a possible fitness cost associated with development of morphological defenses. However, timing of metamorphosis of Drunella larvae to the adult stage did not differ between fish and fishless streams. Larvae originating from fish and fishless streams were reared and exposed to water with fish cues or fishless control water for three weeks (1998) or until they developed black wing pads, i.e., just before emergence (1999). In both experiments waterborne fish cues induced the development of relatively longer caudal filaments, but only in Drunella originating from sites without fish. Waterborne fish cues had no effect oil Drunella growth rates, behavior, or size at emergence. Drunella originating from fish streams had significantly lower mortality when exposed to predation by trout than Drunella originating from fishless streams. Caudal filament length appears to enhance survival, as Drunella with intact caudal filaments had lower predation rates than Drunella with their tails artificially shortened. This study provides evidence of chemically induced morphological plasticity that could reduce predation rates of these mayflies in natural stream environments.

Details

Authors
  • Jonas Dahl
  • BL Peckarsky
Organisations
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Ecology
  • Environmental Sciences

Keywords

  • morphological defenses, mayflies, inducible defenses, fecundity costs of induced morphological defenses, Drunella coloradensis, adaptive phenotypic plasticity, development, predation, streams, trout
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1620-1634
JournalEcology
Volume83
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2002
Publication categoryResearch
Peer-reviewedYes

Bibliographic note

The information about affiliations in this record was updated in December 2015. The record was previously connected to the following departments: Limnology (Closed 2011) (011007000)