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Plastic Responses of a Sessile Prey to Multiple Predators: A Field and Experimental Study
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Biology, Department of Ecology and Genetics, Limnology.
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Biology, Department of Ecology and Genetics, Limnology.
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Biology, Department of Ecology and Genetics, Limnology.
2014 (English)In: PLoS ONE, ISSN 1932-6203, Vol. 9, no 12, e115192- p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Background: Theory predicts that prey facing a combination of predators with different feeding modes have two options: to express a response against the feeding mode of the most dangerous predator, or to express an intermediate response. Intermediate phenotypes protect equally well against several feeding modes, rather than providing specific protection against a single predator. Anti-predator traits that protect against a common feeding mode displayed by all predators should be expressed regardless of predator combination, as there is no need for trade-offs. Principal Findings: We studied phenotypic anti-predator responses of zebra mussels to predation threat from a handling-time-limited (crayfish) and a gape-size-limited (roach) predator. Both predators dislodge mussels from the substrate but diverge in their further feeding modes. Mussels increased expression of a nonspecific defense trait (attachment strength) against all combinations of predators relative to a control. In response to roach alone, mussels showed a tendency to develop a weaker and more elongated shell. In response to crayfish, mussels developed a harder and rounder shell. When exposed to either a combination of predators or no predator, mussels developed an intermediate phenotype. Mussel growth rate was positively correlated with an elongated weaker shell and negatively correlated with a round strong shell, indicating a trade-off between anti-predator responses. Field observations of prey phenotypes revealed the presence of both anti-predator phenotypes and the trade-off with growth, but intra-specific population density and bottom substrate had a greater influence than predator density. Conclusions: Our results show that two different predators can exert both functionally equivalent and inverse selection pressures on a single prey. Our field study suggests that abiotic factors and prey population density should be considered when attempting to explain phenotypic diversity in the wild.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014. Vol. 9, no 12, e115192- p.
Keyword [en]
trade-off, multiple predators, inducible defenses, Dreissena polymorpha, Rutilus rutilus, Pacifastacus leniusculus
National Category
Biological Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-158690DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0115192ISI: 000347215600054OAI: diva2:440781
Available from: 2011-09-13 Created: 2011-09-13 Last updated: 2015-02-03Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Phenotypic Processes Triggered by Biological Invasions
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Phenotypic Processes Triggered by Biological Invasions
2011 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Individuals within a single population can vary widely in their phenotype e.g. in their body shape. These differences are an important source of biodiversity and they can precede evolutionary divergence within a population.

In this thesis we use the biological invasion of the zebra mussels into Swedish lakes to investigate which processes create or maintain phenotypic diversity within populations of the two native fish species perch and roach and the mussel itself. Both fishes have specially adapted body shapes that depend on whether they feed in the near-shore or open-water habitat of lakes. This habitat-specific divergence was more pronounced in lakes with zebra mussels, probably because resources in both habitats were in higher supply due to the mussels’ effects on the lakes. Divergence in perch body shapes between habitats was also higher in lakes with a higher water clarity, suggesting that visual conditions can affect the resource use and thus also the expression of a habitat-specific body shape.

When investigating the diversity of body shapes in the mussel itself we found that mussels from one lake changed their shell shape when exposed to different predators: fish predators induced a more elongated shell shape while crayfish predators induced a rounder shell. These specific shell shapes probably serve as two alternative predator defenses protecting the mussel from predation.

We conclude that the availability and use of distinct resources is an important source of diversity within populations. Abiotic conditions can play a previously underappreciated role by promoting or impairing the use of the distinct resources thus affecting the divergence. The diversity of shell shapes we found in the zebra mussels complements our study by demonstrating that not only consumer responses to resources but also resources’ responses to predators can generate phenotypic diversity.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2011. 44 p.
Digital Comprehensive Summaries of Uppsala Dissertations from the Faculty of Science and Technology, ISSN 1651-6214 ; 853
Resource polymorphism, phenotypic plasticity, phenotypic divergence, anti-predator responses, Perca fluviatilis, Rutilus rutilus, Dreissena polymorpha
National Category
Biological Sciences
Research subject
Biology with specialization in Limnology
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-158697 (URN)978-91-554-8157-5 (ISBN)
Public defence
2011-10-28, Ekmansalen, Norbyvägen 14, Uppsala, 10:00 (English)
Available from: 2011-10-06 Created: 2011-09-13 Last updated: 2012-05-31

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