Facing different predators: adaptiveness of behavioral and morphological traits under predation



Heynen M, Bunnefeld N & Borcherding J (2017) Facing different predators: adaptiveness of behavioral and morphological traits under predation. Current Zoology, 63 (3), pp. 249-257.

Predation is thought to be one of the main structuring forces in animal communities. However, selective predation is often measured on isolated traits in response to a single predatory species, but only rarely are selective forces on several traits quantified or even compared between different predators naturally occurring in the same system. In the present study, we therefore measured behavioral and morphological traits in young-of-the-year Eurasian perch Perca fluviatilis and compared their selective values in response to the 2 most common predators, adult perch and pike Esox lucius. Using mixed effects models and model averaging to analyze our data, we quantified and compared the selectivity of the 2 predators on the different morphological and behavioral traits. We found that selection on the behavioral traits was higher than on morphological traits and perch predators preyed overall more selectively than pike predators. Pike tended to positively select shallow bodied and nonvigilant individuals (i.e. individuals not performing predator inspection). In contrast, perch predators selected mainly for bolder juvenile perch (i.e. individuals spending more time in the open, more active), which was most important. Our results are to the best of our knowledge the first that analyzed behavioral and morphological adaptations of juvenile perch facing 2 different predation strategies. We found that relative specific predation intensity for the divergent traits differed between the predators, providing some additional ideas why juvenile perch display such a high degree of phenotypic plasticity.

behavior; morphological variation; Perca fluviatilis; perch; pike; predator-specific defenses; selective predation

Current Zoology: Volume 63, Issue 3

Publication date30/06/2017
Publication date online02/05/2016
Date accepted by journal21/04/2016
PublisherOxford University Press

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Professor Nils Bunnefeld
Professor Nils Bunnefeld

Professor, Biological and Environmental Sciences