, Volume 170, Issue 1, pp 47-55
Date: 23 Feb 2012

Interactive influence of biotic and abiotic cues on the plasticity of preferred body temperatures in a predator–prey system

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


The ability to modify phenotypes in response to heterogeneity of the thermal environment represents an important component of an ectotherm’s non-genetic adaptive capacity. Despite considerable attention being dedicated to the study of thermally-induced developmental plasticity, whether or not interspecific interactions shape the plastic response in both a predator and its prey remains unknown. We tested several predictions about the joint influence of predator/prey scents and thermal conditions on the plasticity of preferred body temperatures (T p) in both actors of this interaction, using a dragonfly nymphs–newt larvae system. Dragonfly nymphs (Aeshna cyanea) and newt eggs (Ichthyosaura alpestris) were subjected to fluctuating cold and warm thermal regimes (7–12 and 12–22°C, respectively) and the presence/absence of a predator or prey chemical cues. Preferred body temperatures were measured in an aquatic thermal gradient (5–33°C) over a 24-h period. Newt T p increased with developmental temperature irrespective of the presence/absence of predator cues. In dragonflies, thermal reaction norms for T p were affected by the interaction between temperature and prey cues. Specifically, the presence of newt scents in cold regime lowered dragonfly T p. We concluded that predator–prey interactions influenced thermally-induced plasticity of T p but not in a reciprocal fashion. The occurrence of frequency-dependent thermal plasticity may have broad implications for predator–prey population dynamics, the evolution of thermal biology traits, and the consequences of sustaining climate change within ecological communities.

Communicated by Anssi Laurila.