Costs and limits of dosage response to predation risk: to what extent can tadpoles invest in anti-predator morphology?
Teplitsky, Céline | Plénet, Sandrine | Joly, Pierre
Inducible defences have long been considered as a polyphenism opposing defended and undefended morphs. However, in nature, preys are exposed to various levels of predation risk and scale their investment in defence to actual predation risk. Still, among the traits that are involved in the defence, some are specific to one predator type while others act as a more generalised defence. The existence of defence costs could prevent an individual investing in all these traits simultaneously. In this study, we investigate the impact of an increasing level of predator density (stickleback, Gasterosteus aculeatus) on the expression of morphological inducible defences in tadpoles of Rana dalmatina. In this species, investment in tail length and tail muscle is a stickleback-specific response while increased tail fin depth is a more general defence. As expected, we found a relationship between investment in defence and level of risk through the responses of tail fin depth and tail length. We also found an exponential increase of defence cost, notably expressed by convex decrease of growth and developmental rates. We found a relative independence of investment in the different traits that compose the defence, revealing a high potential for fine tuning the expression of defended phenotypes with respect to local ecological conditions.Show more [+] Less [-]