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Damage, digestion, and defense: Behavioral and morphological plasticity in response to different chemical cues.
Schoeppner, Nancy*,1, Relyea, Rick1, 1 University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA
ABSTRACT- Organisms change a wide range of behavioral, morphological, and life-historical traits in response to predators, but for the organism to correctly match their defensive phenotype to the environment there must be reliable cues about the current level of predation risk. In aquatic systems, chemical cues are given off by both predators (kairomones) and prey (alarm pheromones) and both cues can induce prey defenses. While alarm pheromones and kairomones induce changes in prey phenotypes, these cues could play different roles in inducing different traits. In this experiment, we examined the effects of nine consumed and nine crushed diets on the behavior and morphology of gray treefrog tadpoles (Hyla versicolor). The consumed diets released a combination of kairomones and alarm pheromones, while the crushed diets only released alarm pheromones. We found that behavior and morphology were affected by predator diet as well as by differences between crushed and consumed prey.
Key words: morphological plasticity, predator-induced defense, predator cues, alarm pheromones