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Keywords:

  • adaptive plasticity ;
  • beneficial acclimation;
  • dragonfly nymphs;
  • predator;
  • prey interactions;
  • thermal adaptation;
  • Triturus

Many organisms respond to the heterogeneity of abiotic environmental conditions by plastic modifications of their phenotypes (acclimation or acclimatization). Despite considerable research efforts in this area, the beneficial (adaptive) effect of acclimation or acclimatization is still debated. We examined whether the development of newt larvae (Ichthyosaura alpestris) under different natural light and thermal conditions subsequently altered their susceptibility to predation in sun-exposed versus shaded tanks in nature. During predation trials in various light and temperature conditions, newt larvae that developed in sun-exposed warmer tanks consistently suffered from higher predation by dragonfly nymphs (Aeshna cyanea) compared to larvae from shaded or colder tanks. We conclude that higher sun exposure during embryonic and larval development negatively affects antipredator performance even in sun-exposed tanks: this result is inconsistent with the beneficial acclimation hypothesis. © 2012 The Linnean Society of London, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2012, ●●, ●●–●●.