GEOGRAPHIC VARIATION IN A PREDATOR-INDUCED DEFENSE AND ITS GENETIC BASIS

Authors


  • Corresponding Editor: J. Loman.

 E-mail: kishida@fish.hokudai.ac.jp

Abstract

Predator-induced morphological defenses are a well-known form of phenotypic plasticity, but we continue to have a limited understanding of geographic variation in these responses and its genetic basis. Here we examine genetic variation and geographic differentiation in the inducible defenses of tadpoles (Rana pirica) in response to predatory salamander larvae (Hynobius retardatus). To do so, we crossed male and female frogs from a “mainland” Japanese island having predaceous salamanders and a more isolated island not having predaceous salamanders and raised resulting offspring in the presence and absence of H. retardatus. Mainland tadpoles exhibited a higher capacity to express the inducible morphology (a more bulgy body) than those from the predator-free island, and expression of the bulgy morph in mainland–island hybrids produced phenotypes that were intermediate to those produced by pure crosses. In addition, parental sex had no effect on expression of the bulgy morph. Our results support the hypothesis that geographic variation in inducible defenses is linked to the additive effects of autosomal alleles that are shaped by differences in historical exposure to the inducing predator.

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