Evol Ecol Res 14: 113-123 (2012)     Full PDF if your library subscribes.

Kin-selective cannibalism and compensatory performance in larval salamander cohorts inhabiting temporary ponds

Asaf Sadeh

Department of Evolutionary & Environmental Biology and the Institute of Evolution, University of Haifa, Haifa, Israel

Correspondence: A. Sadeh, Department of Entomology and the Center for Population Biology, University of California, Davis, CA 95616, USA.
e-mail: asaffield@yahoo.com


Question: Related pairs of individuals tend to express reduced aggression. What are the consequences of this behaviour on groups of developing larvae under food and time limitations?

Hypothesis: The positive effects of reduced cannibalism among related larvae on their success at reaching metamorphosis may be neutralized or even outweighed by negative density-dependent effects.

Organism: Kin-discriminating, cannibalistic fire salamander (Salamandra infraimmaculata) larvae from two populations in northern Israel.

Methods: I compared sibling and genetically mixed larval cohorts throughout their larval period in short-lived, outdoor mesocosms.

Conclusions: The experiment supported the hypothesis. Rates of cannibalism were higher in mixed cohorts. Nevertheless, overall survival before habitat loss was similar between treatments. The probability that a larva would attain metamorphosis before early habitat loss was higher in the mixed cohorts than that in the sibling cohorts.

Keywords: competition, desiccation risk, ephemeral habitats, inclusive fitness, kin discrimination.

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