Life history responses of Daphnia longispina to mosquitofish (Gambusia holbrooki) and pumpkinseed (Lepomis gibbosus) kairomones
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In the present study, the effect of chemical cues from two fish species (mosquitofish and pumpkinseed), at different concentrations, was tested in life history experiments with Daphnia longispina. The two fish species used represent the most abundant planktivores of many Mediterranean shallow lakes (SW Europe), where the indigenous fish communities have been replaced by such exotic assemblages. Results have shown a similar response of D. longispina to both fish species: kairomones stimulated daphnids to produce more offspring, which resulted in higher fitness (r), relatively to a fishless control. Fish presence also induced an earlier first reproduction, a smaller size at maturity of daphnids, and the production of smaller-sized neonates. Significant correlations with fish concentration (indirect measure of fish kairomone concentration) were found for size at maturity and neonate size, for both fish species. These results are in accordance to the “positive response” observed by other authors, which represents a defence mechanism to face losses caused by fish predators. The chemically mediated size reduction of mature females and neonates is an adaptive response to the size-selective predation exerted by fish. Pumpkinseed introduction is very recent in the lake of origin of the daphnids used in the experiments and its kairomone produced similar effects to mosquitofish in the life history of D. longispina. These results are contrary to the existence of a species-specific kairomone and support the hypothesis of a general fish kairomone.
KeywordsDaphnia Life history responses Fish kairomones Gambusia holbrooki Lepomis gibbosus
Bruno B. Castro was supported by a PhD grant (ref. SFRH/BD/6417/2001) from Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (Portugal).
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