Predation cost of rapid growth: Behavioural coupling and physiological decoupling

  • Stoks R
  • De Block M
  • Van De Meutter F
 et al. 
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1. Despite its prominent role in life-history theory, there is no direct empirical evidence for a behaviourally mediated predation cost of rapid growth. Moreover, we know little about how digestive physiology may also influence the shape of the growth/predation risk trade-off function. 2. We determined the role of behaviour and digestive physiology in experiments in which damselfly larvae were induced to grow slowly or rapidly by manipulating photoperiod (time stress), and exposure to a fish predator. 3. We showed that larvae under time stress grew more rapidly. Rapid-growing larvae had a higher foraging activity and a higher growth efficiency. 4. Under predation risk, larvae not only had a lower foraging activity but also a lower growth efficiency. 5. Rapid-growing larvae (i.e. those under time stress) balanced the growth/predation risk trade-off differently and took more risk in the presence of a predator, which resulted in a behaviourally mediated higher predation cost compared to slow-growing larvae. Their higher growth efficiency, however, made this cost smaller compared to a completely behaviourally mediated rapid-growth strategy. 6. Our results provide the first explicit experimental proof of a behaviourally mediated predation cost of rapid growth. Besides a behavioural coupling of growth and predation risk, resulting in the well-known trade-off, we also found a partial decoupling of these two processes by digestive physiology.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Antipredator behaviour
  • Growth/predation risk trade-off
  • Life-history plasticity
  • Physiological stress
  • Time stress

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