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Department of Biological Sciences


The simultaneous presence of predators and a limited time for development imposes a conflict: accelerating growth under time constraints comes at the cost of higher predation risk mediated by increased foraging. The few studies that have addressed this trade-off have dealt only with life history traits such as age and size at maturity. Physiological traits have largely been ignored in studies assessing the impact of environmental stressors, and it is largely unknown whether they respond independently of life history traits. Here, we studied the simultaneous effects of time constraints, i.e., as imposed by seasonality, and predation risk on immune defense, energy storage, and life history in lestid damselflies. As predicted by theory, larvae accelerated growth and development under time constraints while the opposite occurred under predation risk. The activity of phenoloxidase, an important component of insect immunity, and investment in fat storage were reduced both under time constraints and in the presence of predators. These reductions were smaller when time constraints and predation risk were combined. This indicates that predators can induce sublethal costs linked to both life history and physiology in their prey, and that time constraints can independently reduce the impact of predator-induced changes in life history and physiology.



Original Citation

Stoks R, De Block M, Slos S, Van Doorslaer W, Rolff J. Time constraints mediate predator-induced plasticity in immune function, condition, and life history. Ecology. 2006 Apr;87(4):809-15. doi: 10.1890/0012-9658(2006)87[809:tcmppi];2. PMID: 16676523.