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Predation risk affects egg mortality and carry over effects in the larval stages in damselflies

Sniegula, Szymon, Nsanzimana, Jean d'Amour, Johansson, Frank
Freshwater biology 2019 v.64 no.4 pp. 778-786
Coenagrion, Ischnura, algae, containers, eggs, fungi, hatching, laboratory experimentation, larvae, larval development, mortality, oxygen, perch, predation, risk
The non‐consumptive predator effect may incur physiological costs that affect growth and development and ultimately survival. While studies have shown that the effect can affect development and growth in organisms with complex life cycles, we have limited knowledge on the effect in the egg and early larval stage. Here, we used a laboratory experiment to examine how the presence of chemical cues, a non‐consumptive predator effect, from an aquatic predator, perch, affected hatching success of larvae in three species of damselfly, Ischnura elegans, Coenagrion pulchellum, and Enallagma cyathigerum. In addition, we examined how exposure to predation risk in the early larval stages affected growth in the late larval stages of I. elegans. We found that the presence of chemical predator cues (1) increased egg mortality in all three species, (2) caused earlier hatching of eggs in one species, no change in a second species and a delay in egg hatching in a third species. We also found that predator cues have the potential to cause a carryover effect from early larval stages to late larval stages in terms of larval growth rate. The addition of non‐consumptive predator cues in the form of fish water caused higher algal growth than in the control experimental containers, and we suggest that this algal growth has the potential to confound predator stress cues. Our results show that the non‐consumptive predator effects affect survival and growth, and hence they have the potential to affect predator–prey dynamics in natural systems. Future studies on such effects in aquatic systems should consider confounding stressors, such as algae, fungi, oxygen, and nutrients levels, that might come with the addition of predation cues in water and thus add additional stress.