Predator effects on behaviour and life-history of prey
2005 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
In this thesis I investigate predator-induced effects on behavioural and life-history characteristics of prey. At any moment a given predator is capable of attacking a small number of prey. However, the mere presence of a predator may impact a much larger number of individuals, as prey implement various behavioural and developmental mechanisms to reduce the risk of predation. It has become increasingly clear that predator induced responses have the potential to affect patterns of species abundance and distribution as well as individual fitness of prey. I study these responses by incorporating field surveys, semi-field experiments and laboratory experiments. All experiments were done in an aquatic environment using fish or large odonate larvae as predators and damselfly-or diving beetle larvae as prey.
My work highlights the importance of monitoring prey behaviour when studying life-history characteristics. I show that fish presence is an important factor for determining species abundance and distribution of odonates, and that prey behaviour may be a good predictor for fish vulnerability. Larval damselflies react behaviourally to predator presence by reducing activity and/or restricting habitat use. I confirm that such anti-predator responses have positive effects on prey survival in the presence of a predator but negative effects on growth and development of prey. In addition, my results suggest that the increase in per capita food resources for surviving prey following a predation episode (i.e. thinning) can have a stronger positive effect on prey growth and development than the negative effect of anti-predator responses. I also show that the strength of an anti-predator response is dependent on resource availability of the prey, with prey responding less strongly when resources are scarce. My results also indicate that the strength of the anti-predator response of damselfly larvae depends on predator diet and larval age. Predators feeding on prey conspecifics induce a stronger behavioural response in young larva than predators that feed on prey heterospecifics do. This diet-effect was not found in larvae late in ontogeny, due to an increased activity of larva where predators consumed damselflies. Such increased larval activity can be explained as a reaction to a time-constraint. Finally, I found that activity of damselfly larvae is genetically determined and that this has lead to a behavioural syndrome that might limit larval plasticity to a certain activity-range. This phenomenon may have implications for how well larvae are able to react to both biotic and abiotic changes in the environment.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Ekologi, miljö och geovetenskap , 2005. , 34 p.
activity, behaviour, behavioural syndromes, damselfly, development, growth, life-history, predator-prey interaction, predation risk, thinning
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-629ISBN: 91-7305-964-1OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-629DiVA: diva2:144058
2005-12-02, Stora hörsalen, KB3B1, KBC, 901 87, Umeå, 10:00
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