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Keywords:

  • induced defence;
  • morphology;
  • plasticity;
  • predation;
  • Rana dalmatina

Abstract

Induced defences, such as the predator avoidance morphologies in amphibians, result from spatial or temporal variability in predation risk. One important component of this variability should be the difference in hunting strategies between predators. However, little is known about how specific and effective induced defences are to different types of predators. We analysed the impact of both pursuing (fish, Gasterosteus aculeatus) and sit-and-wait (dragonfly, Aeshna cyanea) predators on tadpole (Rana dalmatina) morphology and performance (viz locomotive performance and growth rate). We also investigated the potential benefits of the predator-induced phenotype in the presence of fish predators. Both predators induced deeper tail fins in tadpoles exposed to threat of predation, and stickleback presence also induced longer tails and deeper tail muscles. Morphological and behavioural differences resulted in better escape ability of stickleback-induced tadpoles, leading to improved survival in the face of stickleback predation. These results clearly indicate that specific morphological responses to different types of predators have evolved in R. dalmatina. The specific morphologies suggest low correlations between the traits involved in the defence. Independence of traits allows prey species to fine-tune their response according to current predation risk, so that the benefit of the defence can be maximal.