, Volume 121, Issue 1, pp 12-18

Energetic consequences of an inducible morphological defence in crucian carp

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Crucian carp (Carassius carassius) increases in body depth in response to chemical cues from piscivores and the deeper body constitutes a morphological defence against gape-limited piscivores. In the field, deep-bodied individuals suffer a density-dependent cost when competing with shallow-bodied conspecifics. Here, we use hydrodynamic theory and swimming respirometry to investigate the proposed mechanism underlying this effect, high drag caused by the deep-bodied morphology. Our study confirms that drag is higher for deep-bodied crucian carp, both in terms of estimated theoretical drag and power curve steepness. However, deep-bodied fish swimming at the velocity associated with minimum cost of transport, U mc, did not experience higher costs of transport than shallow-bodied fish. Deep-bodied crucian carp had significantly lower standard metabolic rates, i.e. metabolic rates at rest, and also lower U mc, and the resulting costs of transport were similar for the two morphs. Nevertheless, when deep-bodied individuals deviate from U mc, e.g. when increasing foraging effort under competition, their steeper power curves will cause substantial energy costs relative to shallow-bodied conspecifics. Furthermore, there is evidence that reductions in standard metabolic rate incur costs in terms of lower stress tolerance, reduced growth rate, and life history changes. Thus, this work provides links between hydrodynamics, a cost-reducing mechanism, and a density-dependent fitness cost associated with an inducible defence.

Received: 22 March 1999 / Accepted: 14 June 1999