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The role of predation risk in metamorphosis versus behavioural avoidance: a sex-specific study in a facultative paedomorphic amphibian

Authors
  • Denoël, M.
  • Drapeau, L.
  • Oromi, N.
  • Winandy, L.
Type
Published Article
Journal
Oecologia
Publisher
Springer-Verlag
Publication Date
Feb 26, 2019
Volume
189
Issue
3
Pages
637–645
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1007/s00442-019-04362-8
Source
Springer Nature
Keywords
License
Yellow

Abstract

Evolutionary theory predicts the evolution of metamorphosis over paedomorphosis (the retention of larval traits at the adult stage) in response to life in unfavourable habitats and to the benefits of dispersal. Although many organisms are canalised into obligatory complex or simple life cycles, some species of newts and salamanders can express both processes (facultative paedomorphosis). Previous research highlighted the detrimental effect of fish on both metamorphic and paedomorphic phenotypes, but it remains unknown whether predation risk could induce shifts from paedomorphosis to metamorphosis, whether behavioural avoidance could be an alternative strategy to metamorphosis and whether these responses could be sex-biased. Testing these hypotheses is important because metamorphosed paedomorphs are dispersal individuals which could favour the long-term persistence of the process by breeding subsequently in more favourable waters. Therefore, we quantified the spatial behaviour and timing of the metamorphosis of facultative paedomorphic palmate newts Lissotriton helveticus in response to predation risk. We found that fish induced both male and female paedomorphs to hide more often, but behavioural avoidance was not predictive of metamorphosis. Paedomorphs did not metamorphose more in the presence of fish, yet there was an interaction between sex and predation risk in metamorphosis timing. These results improve our understanding of the lower prevalence of paedomorphs in fish environments and of the female-biased sex ratios in natural populations of paedomorphic newts. Integrating sex-dependent payoffs of polyphenisms and dispersal across habitats is therefore essential to understand the evolution of these processes in response to environmental change.

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