Predators shape distribution and promote diversification of morphological defenses in Leucorrhinia , Odonata

Evolutionary Ecology
By: , and 



Predators strongly influence species assemblages and shape morphological defenses of prey. Interestingly, adaptations that constitute effective defenses against one type of predator may render the prey susceptible to other types of predators. Hence, prey may evolve different strategies to escape predation, which may facilitate adaptive radiation of prey organisms. Larvae of different species in the dragonfly genus Leucorrhinia have various morphological defenses. We studied the distribution of these larvae in relation to the presence of predatory fish. In addition, we examined the variation in morphological defenses within species with respect to the occurrence of fish. We found that well-defended species, those with more and longer spines, were more closely associated with habitats inhabited by predatory fish and that species with weakly developed morphological defenses were more abundant in habitats without fish. The species predominantly connected to lakes with or without fish, respectively, were not restricted to a single clade in the phylogeny of the genus. Our data is suggestive of phenotypic plasticity in morphological defense in three of the studied species since these species showed longer spines in lakes with fish. We suggest that adaptive phenotypic plasticity may have broadened the range of habitats accessible to Leucorrhinia. It may have facilitated colonization of new habitats with different types of predators, and ultimately, speciation through adaptive radiation.

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Predators shape distribution and promote diversification of morphological defenses in Leucorrhinia , Odonata
Series title Evolutionary Ecology
DOI 10.1007/s10682-010-9361-x
Volume 24
Issue 5
Year Published 2010
Language English
Publisher Springer Netherlands
Publisher location Dordrecht, the Netherlands
Contributing office(s) Coop Res Unit Leetown
Description 14 p.
First page 1003
Last page 1016
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
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