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Predator-induced morphological defences as by-products of prey behaviour: a review and prospectus


F. Johansson, Dept of Ecology and Environmental Science, Umea Univ., SE-90187 Umeå, Sweden, and Dept of Ecology and Genetics, Evolutionary Biology Centre, SE-75236 Uppsala University, Sweden E-mail:


Predator-induced morphological defences (PIMDs) are ubiquitous. Many PIMDs may be mediated by prey behaviour rather than directly cued by predators. A survey of 92 studies indicated 40 that quantified prey behaviour, all of which document positive associations between defence production and activity reduction. Thus, PIMDs are associated with changes in prey activity, which could have caused the morphological change. We propose two possible mechanisms: 1) decreased activity reduces feeding rate, resulting in lower growth and morphological change; and 2) activity reduction conserves energy, which is reallocated for growth, subsequently changing morphology. Resource availability also causes similar morphological change to predator presence, suggesting confounding effects of resources and predators with current methodology. Future studies should estimate food ingestion, assimilation efficiency, and growth rate in the presence and absence of predators, crossing predator presence with resource levels. Not all PIMDs will be behaviourally-mediated, but consideration of causal linkages between prey behaviour and PIMDs is warranted.