Prey-specific impact of cold pre-exposure on kill rate and reproduction

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Temperature influences biological processes of ectotherms including ecological interactions, but interaction strengths may depend on species-specific traits. Furthermore, ectotherms acclimate to prevailing thermal conditions by adjusting physiological parameters, which often implies costs to other fitness-related parameters. Both predators and prey may therefore pay thermal acclimation costs following exposure to suboptimal temperatures. However, these costs may be asymmetrical between predator and prey, and between the predator and different species of concurrent prey. We investigated whether thermal pre-exposure affected subsequent kill rate and predator fitness when foraging on prey that differ in ease of capture, and whether changes were primarily caused by predator or by prey pre-exposure effects. Specifically, we were interested in whether there were interactions between predator pre-exposed temperature and specific prey. Using the mesostigmatid mite Gaeolaelaps aculeifer as a generalist predator and the collembolans Folsomia candida and Protaphorura fimata as prey, we measured the impact of present temperature, predator pre-exposure temperature, prey pre-exposure temperature (all 10 or 20°C), prey species, and all interactions on prey numbers killed, predator eggs produced, and exploitation of killed prey in a full factorial design. Mites killed P. fimata in equal numbers independent of the presence of F. candida, but killed F. candida when P. fimata was absent. Mite kill rate and reproduction were significantly affected by mite pre-exposure temperature and test temperature, but not by prey pre-exposure temperature. Significantly more of the slower prey was killed than of the quicker prey. Importantly, we found significant synergistic negative interaction effects between predator cold pre-exposure and hunting prey of higher agility on predator kill rate and reproduction. Our findings show that the negative effects of cold and cold pre-exposure on kill rate and reproduction may be more severe when predators forage on quick prey. The study implies that predator cold exposure has consequences for specific prey survival following cold due to altered predation pressures, which in nature should influence the specific prey population dynamics and apparent competition outcomes. The findings exemplify how not only current but also preceding conditions affect ecological interactions, and that effect strength depends on the species involved.

Translated title of the contributionBytte-specifik indflydelse af kulde-foreksponering på drabsrate og reproduktion
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Animal Ecology
Pages (from-to)258-268
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2019

    Research areas

  • Collembola, Mesostigmata, cold acclimation, predator–prey interactions, prey exploitation, reproductive output, temperature, thermal pre-exposure, ACTIVE PREDATOR CHOICE, HYPOASPIS-ACULEIFER, TEMPERATURE-DEPENDENCE, THERMAL-ACCLIMATION, CLIMATE-CHANGE, SALINAS VALLEY, predator-prey interactions, GAEOLAELAPS-ACULEIFER, TOP-DOWN, BIOLOGICAL-CONTROL, BOTTOM-UP

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