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Predation risk increases immune response in a larval dragonfly (Leucorrhinia intacta)

Duong, Tammy M., McCauley, Shannon J.
Ecology 2016 v.97 no.6 pp. 1605-1610
Anax junius, encapsulation, immune response, larvae, melanin, mortality, predation, predators, resource allocation, risk, temperature
Predators often negatively affect prey performance through indirect, non‐consumptive effects. We investigated the potential relationship between predator‐induced stress and prey immune response. To test this, we administered a synthetic immune challenge into dragonfly larvae (Leucorrhinia intacta) and assessed a key immune response (level of encapsulation) in the presence and absence of a caged predator (Anax junius) at two temperatures (22°C and 26°C). We hypothesized that immune response would be lowered when predators were present due to lowered allocation of resources to immune function and leading to reduced encapsulation of the synthetic immune challenge. Contrary to our expectations, larvae exposed to caged predators had encapsulated monofilaments significantly more than larvae not exposed to caged predators. Levels of encapsulation did not differ across temperatures, nor interact with predator exposure. Our results suggest that the previously observed increase in mortality of L. intacta exposed to caged predators is not driven by immune suppression. In situations of increased predation risk, the exposure to predator cues may induce higher levels of melanin production, which could lead to physiological damage and high energetic costs. However, the costs and risks of increased allocations to immune responses and interactions with predation stress remain unknown.