The influence of predator regime on reproductive traits in Gammarus pulex populations

  • Åbjörnsson K
  • Brönmark C
  • Hansson L
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Selection on traits conferring reduced predation may be opposed by selection on other traits associated with reproduction. Here, we exam- ined the hypothesis that traits associated with repro- duction in Gammarus pulex are driven by predation. We studied G. pulex originating from ponds with two different kinds of predator regimes: (1) ponds with fish—often large, non-gap-limited predators and (2) ponds without fish where invertebrates are the dominant predators—often small, gap-limited preda- tors with a much more restricted prey size range. We examined the body size of males and females in G. pulex amplexus pairs originating from fish and fishless ponds. We also examined, in the laboratory, their mating success, the number of offspring per female and offspring mortality under different rearing conditions, with or without fish cue. Mating success, defined as the percentage of amplexus pairs that produced live offspring, was higher for G. pulex from fishless ponds independent of rearing condition. Individuals from fish ponds were larger and they produced a higher number of offspring which tended to be related to female body size. Offspring mortality was higher in populations from fish ponds compared Handling editor: P. Spaak K. A ˚ bjo to populations from fishless ponds. Despite the higher offspring mortality, females from fish ponds had a higher number of offspring alive after 13 weeks, which is the approximate time it takes for G. pulex to reach maturity. Our data imply that no trade-off between reducing body size to reduce mortality caused by fish and maximising reproductive success exist in G. pulex from fish ponds. The strategy with many offspring may be the correct strategy in fish- ponds where predation pressure generally is higher than in fishless ponds.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Fish
  • Gammarus pulex
  • Life history
  • Predator regime
  • Reproduction

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  • Kajsa Åbjörnsson

  • Christer Brönmark

  • Lars Anders Hansson

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