A predator has nonconsumptive effects on different life-history stages of a prey
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Through a field experiment, we show that a predator has negative nonconsumptive effects (NCEs) on different life-history stages of the same prey species. Shortly before the recruitment season of the barnacle Semibalanus balanoides (May–June), we established experimental cages in rocky intertidal habitats in Nova Scotia, Canada. The cages were used to manipulate the presence and absence of dogwhelks, Nucella lapillus, the main predators of barnacles. At the centre of each cage, we installed a tile where barnacle pelagic larvae could settle and the resulting recruits grow. Mesh prevented caged dogwhelks from accessing the tiles, but allowed waterborne dogwhelk cues to reach the tiles. Results in May indicated that barnacle larvae settled preferentially on tiles from cages without dogwhelks. In November, at the end of the dogwhelk activity period and once the barnacle recruits had grown to adult size, barnacle body mass was lower in the presence of dogwhelks. This limitation may have resulted from a lower barnacle feeding activity with nearby dogwhelks, as found by a previous study. The observed larval and adult responses in barnacles are consistent with attempts to decrease predation risk. November data also indicated that dogwhelk cues limited barnacle reproductive output, a possible consequence of the limited growth of barnacles. Overall, this study suggests that a predator species might influence trait evolution in a prey species through NCEs on different life-history stages.
We thank Patrick Comtois for field assistance, Werner Schnepf, Steven MacDonald, and David Risk for laboratory assistance, and two anonymous reviewers for helpful comments on the manuscript. Funds were provided by grants awarded to R. Scrosati by the Canada Research Chairs Program (CRC; Grant Number 210283), the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI; Grant Number 202034), and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC, Discovery Grant Number 311624) and by Ph.D. scholarships awarded to J. Ellrich by the Stiftung für Kanada-Studien (SKS, Scholarship Number T191/19833) and the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD, scholarship number D/10/47054). This study is part of the Ph.D. dissertation of J. Ellrich, supervised by R. Scrosati and M. Molis and registered at the University of Bremen, Germany.
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Conflict of interest
The authors declare to have no conflicts of interest.
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