, Volume 145, Issue 3, pp 364–370 | Cite as

Costs and limits of dosage response to predation risk: to what extent can tadpoles invest in anti-predator morphology?

Population Ecology


Inducible defences have long been considered as a polyphenism opposing defended and undefended morphs. However, in nature, preys are exposed to various levels of predation risk and scale their investment in defence to actual predation risk. Still, among the traits that are involved in the defence, some are specific to one predator type while others act as a more generalised defence. The existence of defence costs could prevent an individual investing in all these traits simultaneously. In this study, we investigate the impact of an increasing level of predator density (stickleback, Gasterosteus aculeatus) on the expression of morphological inducible defences in tadpoles of Rana dalmatina. In this species, investment in tail length and tail muscle is a stickleback-specific response while increased tail fin depth is a more general defence. As expected, we found a relationship between investment in defence and level of risk through the responses of tail fin depth and tail length. We also found an exponential increase of defence cost, notably expressed by convex decrease of growth and developmental rates. We found a relative independence of investment in the different traits that compose the defence, revealing a high potential for fine tuning the expression of defended phenotypes with respect to local ecological conditions.


Inducible defences Morphology Phenotypic plasticity Rana dalmatina 



We are grateful to A. Laurila and two anonymous referees for helpful comments on earlier drafts of the manuscript. We thank J.-P. Léna for help in statistics, L. Canario and A. Renouf for field assistance. We also thank UPRA fishery for providing three-spined sticklebacks. C. Teplitsky was supported by a grant from the French Ministry for Education and Research. R. dalmatina eggs were collected with permits from the French Ministry of Environment and local environmental services. Experiments complied with the current French laws.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Céline Teplitsky
    • 1
    • 2
  • Sandrine Plénet
    • 1
  • Pierre Joly
    • 1
  1. 1.UMR CNRS 5023 Ecology of Fluvial Hydrosystems, Bât Darwin CUniversité Claude Bernard Lyon1Villeurbanne CedexFrance
  2. 2.Departement of PopulationBiology Evolutionary Biology CenterUppsalaSweden

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