Evol Ecol Res 6: 619-626 (2004)     Full PDF if your library subscribes.

Benefits of morphological defence demonstrated by direct manipulation in larval dragonflies

Dirk Johannes Mikolajewski1* and Jens Rolff2

1TU Braunschweig, Zoologisches Institut Ökologie, Fasanenstr. 3, 38102 Braunschweig, Germany and  2Evolution and Behaviour Group, Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, University of Sheffield, Sheffield S10 2TN, UK

Author to whom all correspondence should be addressed.
e-mail: d.mikolajewski@tu-bs.de


Many prey species evolved morphological structures to hold off predators. As morphology and behaviour are frequently entwined, it is very difficult to demonstrate the assumed defence benefit of the morphological traits. Using a novel approach of directly manipulating morphological defence in larval dragonflies, we demonstrated that spines were an effective morphological defence against predatory fish. Our results showed that the survival probability of larval dragonflies being attacked from behind was four-fold higher in larvae possessing spines than in larvae without spines. However, spines were ineffective against attacks from the front. We discuss the relevance of our study for understanding inducible defence.

Keywords: benefits, inducible defence, morphological defence, plasticity, predator.

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