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Predation risk shapes thermal physiology of a predaceous damselfly

Abstract

Predation risk has strong effects on organismal physiology that can cascade to impact ecosystem structure and function. Physiological processes in general are sensitive to temperature. Thus, the temperature at which predators and prey interact may shape physiological response to predation risk. We measured and evaluated how temperature and predation risk affected growth rates of predaceous damselfly nymphs (Enallagma vesperum, Odonata: Coenagrionidae). First, we conducted growth trials at five temperatures crossed with two levels of predation risk (fish predator present versus absent) and measured growth rates, consumption rates, assimilation efficiencies, and production efficiencies of 107 individual damselflies. Second, we used a model to evaluate if and how component physiological responses to predation risk affected growth rates across temperatures. In the absence of mortality threat, growth rates of damselflies increased with warming until about 23.5 °C and then began to decline, a typical unimodal response to changes in temperature. Under predation risk, growth rates were lower and the shape of the thermal response was less apparent. Higher metabolic and survival costs induced by predation risk were only partially offset by changes in consumption rates and assimilation efficiencies and the magnitude of non-consumptive effects varied as a function of temperature. Furthermore, we documented that thermal physiology was mediated by predation risk, a known driver of organismal physiology that occurs in the context of species interactions. A general understanding of climatic impacts on ectothermic populations requires consideration of the community context of thermal physiology, including non-consumptive effects of predators.

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Acknowledgments

This project was made possible with funding from Dartmouth’s Biology Department (the R. Melville Cramer Fund). Thanks to Laurel Symes for help with damselfly identification; Danny O’Donnell, Zach Wood, Lauren Bonvini, Kathy Culler, and Bret Manning for help with lab and field work; and Craig Layne and Sam Fey for help with Daphnia rearing. Kathy Cottingham, Alex Huryn, Ross Virginia, Sam Fey, Mike Logan, and three anonymous reviewers provided valuable feedback on the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Lauren E. Culler.

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Communicated by Jennifer Thaler.

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Culler, L.E., McPeek, M.A. & Ayres, M.P. Predation risk shapes thermal physiology of a predaceous damselfly. Oecologia 176, 653–660 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00442-014-3058-8

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Keywords

  • Temperature
  • Predators
  • Consumption
  • Metabolism
  • Growth