, Volume 132, Issue 3, pp 344–349 | Cite as

Facing multiple enemies: parasitised hosts respond to predator kairomones

Population Ecology


During their lifetime most organisms are exposed to various enemies influencing their victims in multiple direct and indirect ways. Most studies concentrate on the effects of one enemy at a time, thereby not taking into account that in nature organisms are often simultaneously exposed to more than one enemy. We conducted a life-history experiment to investigate the simultaneous effects of predators (fish, Leuciscus idus) and parasites (microparasite, Caullerya mesnili) on their victim (Daphniagaleata). D. galeata were exposed to predator kairomones, parasites or both. D. galeata are able to sense the presence of fish predators via chemical cues (= kairomones). Both fish predator kairomones and microparasite infections influence the life history of Daphnia. Some of the effects of fish predator kairomones are directly opposed to microparasite effects; fecundity, for example, is increased in the presence of fish kairomones and decreased in Daphnia parasitised with C. mesnili. We investigated the influence of both threats on age at maturity, body size at different adult instars, fecundity and survival of one D. galeata clone. In the presence of fish kairomones, all D. galeata matured significantly earlier and increased the number of eggs in the second brood significantly. Parasitised D. galeata matured significantly earlier than non-parasitised ones in the absence and presence of fish kairomones. An infection with the microparasite C. mesnili led to significantly lower clutch sizes at the second adult instar, to significantly smaller body sizes from adult instar three onwards and to significantly reduced survival. No significant interaction effect between the responses to fish presence and to parasite infection was found for any of the investigated life-history traits. The lack of interaction effects between the exposure to predator kairomones and parasite infection was most likely due to the different timing of the effects. Fish kairomones affected D. galeata early in its life history whereas C. mesnili increased in its effects over time. Our results show that parasitised D. galeata are able to exhibit life-history responses to fish predator presence early in their lives. Thus, D. galeata parasitised with C. mesnili have a similar chance as non-parasitised D. galeata to escape from fish predation via life-history changes. Since older parasitised D. galeata are smaller, they may have an even better chance to escape visual predators under actual predation.

Caullerya Daphnia Fish Inducible defence Life history 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Limnology, EAWAG/ETHDübendorfSwitzerland
  2. 2.Limnology InstituteUniversity of ConstanceKonstanzGermany

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