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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2013

Invertebrate predation predicts variation in an autotomy-related trait in larval damselfly

Bose, Aneesh P. H.; Robinson, Beren W.


Autotomy, the discarding of a prey appendage grasped by a predator, may evolve when the benefits of immediate survival outweigh the costs of appendage loss. In larval damselflies, joints connecting lamellae to the abdomen vary in size and shape within and among taxa suggesting that they may evolve under selection by invertebrate predators, such as dragonfly larvae. Assuming that joint width is proportional to the force required for autotomy, we tested if invertebrate predation favours smaller lamellar joints for autotomy or larger joints for structural support of lamellae for swimming. We compared the maximum joint widths of larval Lestes and Enallagma among ponds that varied in risk of invertebrate predation. Relative predation risk estimated as the frequency of regenerated lamellae within ponds was weakly and positively related to the relative abundance of larval dragonflies. The allometry of lamellar joint size decreased with increasing risk of invertebrate predation across ponds after controlling for variation in body size in Lestes congener but not in Enallagma species. Both species of Lestes had larger joint sizes than the five species of Enallagma, suggesting that the ancestral divergence of lamellar joints between these genera may influence contemporary responses to invertebrate predation.


Evolution; Autotomy; Lamella; Multifunctional trait; Allometry; Lestes

Published in

Evolutionary Ecology
2013, Volume: 27, number: 1, pages: 27-38
Publisher: SPRINGER

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    Evolutionary Biology

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