Male-biased predation of a cave fish by a giant water bug
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Male-biased predation has been described from several epigean species, and in many cases, intrinsic differences between the sexes (such as male ornaments) have been suggested as an explanation. Here we report on male-biased predation of a cave fish (Poecilia mexicana) by an aquatic insect (Belostoma sp.) in a Mexican sulfur cave. P. mexicana use aquatic surface respiration (ASR) to survive in their sulfidic, hypoxic habitat. We found that males typically exhibit more ASR activity than females, which leads to increased exposure to the sit-and-wait predator that catches fish near the water surface. Our finding is novel, because male vulnerability to predation is not directly related to male traits involved in courtship, but rather due to other sexual differences in behavior and ultimately, oxygen demands.
KeywordsBelostoma Male-biased mortality Oxygen demands Poecilia mexicana (Poeciliidae) Predator–prey interaction
We thank the people of Tapijulapa. The Mexican Government kindly issued research-permits (291002–613–1577, DGOPA/5864/260704/-2408, and 16986/191/205/-8101). Financial support came from the DFG (PL 470/1–2, to M.P.) as well as the American Livebearer Association, the Basler Foundation for Biological Research, the German Ichthyological Association, the Janggen Poehn Foundation, the Roche Research Foundation, the University of Oklahoma, and the Wolfermann Nägeli Foundation (to M.T.).
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