Marine and Freshwater Research Marine and Freshwater Research Society
Advances in the aquatic sciences
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Predator threat assessment in Daphnia magna: the role of kairomones versus conspecific alarm cues

J. L. T. Pestana A B C , D. J. Baird B and A. M. V. M. Soares A
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Department of Biology and CESAM, University of Aveiro, Campus Universitário de Santiago, 3810-193, Aveiro, Portugal.

B Environment Canada, Canadian Rivers Institute, Department of Biology University of New Brunswick, 10 Bailey Drive, PO Box 4400, Fredericton, E3B 5A3, Canada.

C Corresponding author. Email: jpestana@ua.pt

Marine and Freshwater Research 64(8) 679-686 https://doi.org/10.1071/MF13043
Submitted: 28 September 2012  Accepted: 10 March 2013   Published: 21 June 2013

Abstract

Studying the finely tuned mechanism of predation risk assessment allows for a better understanding of how prey organisms make key decisions under different levels of predation pressure. We studied the relative importance of conspecific alarm cues and fish kairomones as initiators of D. magna antipredator defences. By exposing a clone of D. magna to different infochemicals that simulated the presence of an active fish predator, we observed cue-specific responses in terms of altered feeding behaviour, respiration and life-history traits. Results agreed with the hypothesis that D. magna processes information from alarm cues from macerated conspecifics and from predator kairomones to assess the level of predation risk, adjusting the magnitude of their responses to the different levels of threat perceived. Results support the findings of other investigations and further show that single cues (fish kairomones or alarm cues) triggered feeding reduction and increased oxygen consumption, whereas fish kairomones only elicited D. magna life-history responses. Prey-specific alarm cues can thus modify the response of Daphnia to trout kairomones and this combination of both chemical cues appears to be necessary to trigger the full deployment of antipredator responses and avoid unnecessary costs arising from maladaptive responses.

Additional keywords: conspecific alarm cues, fish–plankton interactions, inducible responses, infochemicals, predation risk, trout.


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