Flexible defense strategies: competition modifies investment in behavioral vs. morphological defenses
2007 (English)In: Ecology, ISSN 0012-9658, E-ISSN 1939-9170, Vol. 88, no 7, 1641-1646 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Competition is predicted to affect the expression of inducible defenses, but because costs of behavioral and morphological antipredator defenses differ along resource gradients, its effects on defenses may depend on the traits considered. We tested the predictions from different defense models in tadpoles of the common frog Rana temporaria, which exhibit both types of defenses. In an outdoor experiment, we exposed the tadpoles to nonlethal predators (Aeshna dragonfly larvae) and to a gradient of intraspecific competition. Morphological responses did not follow any of the expected patterns, since investment in defense was not affected by resource level. Instead, tail depth decreased in the absence of predators. Behavioral defenses followed a state-dependent model. Overall, the defense strategy of the tadpoles revealed a shift from morphological and behavioral defenses at low tadpole density to morphological defense only at high density. This difference probably reflects the different efficiency of the defenses. Hiding is an effective means of defense, but it is unsustainable when resources are scarce. Morphological responses become more important with increasing density to compensate for the increase in behavioral risk-taking. Our results indicate that competition can strongly affect reaction norms of inducible defenses and highlight the importance of integrating ecological parameters that affect the cost–benefit balance of phenotypic plasticity.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2007. Vol. 88, no 7, 1641-1646 p.
competition, costs, inducible defenses, phenotypic plasticity, predation, tadpole
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-14665DOI: 10.1890/06-1703.1ISI: 000247730800004OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-14665DiVA: diva2:42436