, Volume 643, Issue 1, pp 21-26
Date: 07 Mar 2010

When and how can Daphnia prepare their offspring for the threat of predation?

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The life history of Daphnia exposed to fish kairomone at different developmental stages was examined in a laboratory experiment. The strongest life history response to the applied predation threat was observed in females exposed during the 4th instar. Compared to Daphnia experiencing the presence of fish at earlier or later instars, these individuals reached maturity at a smaller size and released fewer neonates. Moreover, their offspring also demonstrated the strongest reaction to predation threat, exhibiting the broadest phenotypic plasticity in the life history response to predation. The breadth of their reaction norm was, on average, two times larger comparing with individuals from other treatments. Broader phenotypic plasticity may offer clear selective advantages under the unpredictable predation regime. This finding highlights the adaptive role of maternal effect in shaping life history of cladocerans.

Guest editors: M. Silva-Briano & S. S. S. Sarma / Biology of Cladocera (Crustacea): Proceedings of the VIII International Cladocera Symposium