, Volume 92, Issue 3, pp 383–390

Phenotypic plasticity of Daphnia pulex in the presence of invertebrate predators: morphological and life history responses

  • Julia Lüning
Original Papers


Morphological and life history traits of two clones of the cladoceran Daphnia pulex were measured in the presence and absence of size-selective insect predators, the midge larva Chaoborus flavicans, which preys on small Daphnia, and the water bug Notonecta glauca, which preys on large Daphnia. The aim was to detect predator-induced phenotypic changes, particularly the effect of simultaneous exposure to both types of predators. Other work has shown that in the presence of Chaoborus americanus, Daphnia pulex produce a socalled neck spine which may carry several teeth. The morphological modifications are supposed to serve as an anti-predator device. Furthermore, females exposed to Chaoborus often delay their maturation; this has been interpreted as a cost that balances the benefits of the neck teeth. In this investigation, females of both clones produced fewer but larger offspring than control animals when reared in the presence of Chaoborus flavicans. The offspring showed the typical neck spine and delayed first reproduction. In the presence of Notonecta glauca, one of the clones produced more and smaller offspring, and maturation occurred at earlier instars. The other clone also produced more offspring than the control but there was no size difference. When both predators were present, in most cases the reactions of the daphnids were similar to those in the Notonecta experiment. The response to Chaoborus appeared to be suppressed. The observed modifications are interpreted as evolved strategies that reduce the impact of size-selective predation. They are consistent with predictions of life-history theory.

Key words

Daphnia pulex Chaoborus Notonecta Phenotypic plasticity Inducible defence 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Julia Lüning
    • 1
  1. 1.Zoologisches Institut der UniversitätMünchen 2Federal Republic of Germany

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