Defence against multiple enemies


Karine Poitrineau, Génétique et Environnement, ISEM, Université Montpellier II, place Eugène Bataillon, 34000 Montpellier cedex 5, France.
Tel.: +33 467 149357; fax: +33 467 143667; e-mail:


Although very common under natural conditions, the consequences of multiple enemies (parasites, predators, herbivores, or even ‘chemical’ enemies like insecticides) on investment in defence has scarcely been investigated. In this paper, we present a simple model of the joint evolution of two defences targeted against two enemies. We illustrate how the respective level of each defence can be influenced by the presence of the two enemies. Furthermore, we investigate the influences of direct interference and synergy between defences. We show that, depending on certain conditions (costs, interference or synergy between defences), an increase in selection pressure by one enemy can have dramatic effects on defence against another enemy. It is generally admitted that increasing the encounter rate with a second natural enemy can decrease investment in defence against a first enemy, but our results indicate that it may sometimes favour resistance against the first enemy. Moreover, we illustrate that the global defence against one enemy can be lower when only this enemy is present: this has important implications for experimental measures of resistance, and for organisms that invade an area with less enemies or whose community of enemies is reduced. We discuss possible implications of the existence of multiple enemies for conservation biology, biological control and chemical control.