Damage, digestion, and defence: the roles of alarm cues and kairomones for inducing prey defences


E-mail: nschoepp@pitt.edu


Inducible defences are widely used for studying phenotypic plasticity, yet frequently we know little about the cues that induce these defences. For aquatic prey, defences are induced by chemical cues from predators (kairomones) and injured prey (alarm cues). Rarely has anyone determined the separate and combined effects of these cues, particularly across phylogenetically diverse prey types. We examined how tadpoles (Hyla versicolor) altered their defences when 10 different prey were either crushed by hand or consumed by predators. Across all prey types, crushing induced only a subset of the defences induced by consumption. Consuming vs. crushing produced additive responses for behaviour but synergistic responses for morphology and growth. Moreover, we discovered the first extensive evidence that prey responses to different alarm cues depends on prey phylogeny. These results suggest that the amount of information available to the prey affects both the quantitative and qualitative nature of the defended phenotype.