, Volume 95, Issue 12, pp 1195-1198,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

“Sleeping with the enemy”—predator-induced diapause in a mite

Abstract

Diapause in arthropods is a physiological state of dormancy that is generally thought to promote survival during harsh seasons and dispersal, but it may also serve to avoid predation in space and time. Here, we show that predation-related odours induce diapause in female adult spider mites. We argue that this response allows them to move into an area where they are free of enemies, yet forced to survive without food. Spider mites are specialised leaf feeders, but—in late summer—they experience severe predation on leaves. Hence, they face a dilemma: to stay on the leaf and risk being eaten or to move away from the leaf and risk death from starvation and thirst. Female two-spotted spider mites solve this dilemma by dramatically changing their physiology when exposed to predation-associated cues. This allows them to disperse away from leaves and to survive in winter refuges in the bark of trees or in the soil. We conclude that the mere presence of predation-associated cues causes some herbivorous mites to seek refuge, thereby retarding the growth rate of the population as a whole: a trait-mediated indirect effect that may have consequences for the stability of predator–prey systems and for ecosystem structure.