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Size‐mediated priority and temperature effects on intra‐cohort competition and cannibalism in a damselfly
- Sniegula, Szymon, Golab, Maria J., Johansson, Frank
- The journal of animal ecology 2019 v.88 no.4 pp. 637-648
- Lestes, aquatic insects, cannibalism, global warming, hatching, laboratory experimentation, larvae, predation, progeny, rearing, risk, temperature, univoltine habit
- A shift in the relative arrival of offspring, for example a shift in hatching time, can affect competition at the intraspecific level through size‐mediated priority effects, where the larger individuals gain more resources. These priority effects are likely to be affected by climate warming and the rate of intraspecific predation, that is cannibalism. In a laboratory experiment, we examined size‐mediated priority effects in larvae of the univoltine damselfly, Lestes sponsa, at two different temperatures (21 and 23°C). We created three size groups of larvae by manipulating hatching time: early hatched with a large size (extra‐advanced), intermediate hatched with an intermediate size (advanced) and late hatched with a small size (non‐advanced). Thereafter, we reared the larvae from these groups in non‐mixed and mixed groups of 12 larvae. We found strong priority and temperature effects. First, extra‐advanced larvae most often had higher survival, growth and development rates than non‐advanced larvae in mixed groups, compared to groups that consisted of only extra‐advanced larvae. Second, temperature increased growth and development rates and cannibalism. However, the strength of priority effects did not differ between the two experimental temperatures, because there was no statistical interaction between temperature and treatments. That is, the mixed and non‐mixed groups of non‐advanced, advanced and extra‐advanced larvae showed the same relative change in life‐history traits across the two temperatures. Non‐advanced and advanced larvae had similar or higher growth rate and mass in mixed groups compared to non‐mixed groups, suggesting that predation from advanced larvae in the mixed group released resources for the non‐advanced and advanced larvae that survived despite cannibalism risk. Thus, a thinning effect occurred due to cannibalism caused by priority effects. The results suggest that a shift in the relative arrival of offspring can cause temperature‐dependent priority effects, mediated through cannibalism, growth and development, which may change the size distribution and abundance of emerging aquatic insects.