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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2002 Apr 16;99(8):5481-5.

In deep trouble: habitat selection constrained by multiple enemies in zooplankton.

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  • 1Laboratory of Aquatic Ecology, Catholic University of Leuven, Charles de Bériotstraat 32, 3000 Leuven, Belgium. ellen.decaestecker@bio.kuleuven.ac.be


Habitat selection behavior is an important predator-avoidance strategy for many organisms. Its particular expression is often explained as the result of a tradeoff between avoiding antagonists and acquiring resources. However, there is need for a broader perspective on this behavior, as organisms are often simultaneously involved in complex antagonistic relationships with multiple types of enemies. We show experimentally that a tradeoff between predator and parasite avoidance may be important in the evolution of habitat selection behavior in the waterflea, Daphnia magna. In this species, negatively phototactic clones suffer less from visually hunting predators by residing in deeper and darker portions of the water column during the day. However, this behavior increases the risk of parasitic infections when the Daphnia are exposed to pond sediments containing parasite spores. Positively phototactic clones, which are at a higher risk of predation, are less exposed to parasite spores in the sediment and consequently suffer less from parasitic infection. We show that the increased risk of infection remains even if the animals change their phototactic behavior on exposure to chemical cues from fish. This tradeoff highlights a substantial cost of predator-induced changes in habitat selection behavior. Tradeoffs caused by multiple enemies may explain genetic polymorphism for habitat selection behavior in many natural populations.

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