Browsing by Subject "predator-prey interactions"

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  • Rönkä, Katja; Valkonen, Janne K.; Nokelainen, Ossi; Rojas, Bibiana; Gordon, Swanne; Burdfield-Steel, Emily; Mappes, Johanna (2020)
    Warning signals are predicted to develop signal monomorphism via positive frequency-dependent selection (+FDS) albeit many aposematic systems exhibit signal polymorphism. To understand this mismatch, we conducted a large-scale predation experiment in four countries, among which the frequencies of hindwing warning coloration of the aposematic moth,Arctia plantaginis,differ. Here we show that selection by avian predators on warning colour is predicted by local morph frequency and predator community composition. We found +FDS to be the strongest in monomorphic Scotland and lowest in polymorphic Finland, where the attack risk of moth morphs depended on the local avian community. +FDS was also found where the predator community was the least diverse (Georgia), whereas in the most diverse avian community (Estonia), hardly any models were attacked. Our results support the idea that spatial variation in predator communities alters the strength or direction of selection on warning signals, thus facilitating a geographic mosaic of selection.
  • Winters, Anne E.; Lommi, Jenna; Kirvesoja, Jimi; Nokelainen, Ossi; Mappes, Johanna (2021)
    Aposematic organisms warn predators of their unprofitability using a combination of defenses, including visual warning signals, startling sounds, noxious odors, or aversive tastes. Using multiple lines of defense can help prey avoid predators by stimulating multiple senses and/or by acting at different stages of predation. We tested the efficacy of three lines of defense (color, smell, taste) during the predation sequence of aposematic wood tiger moths (Arctia plantaginis) using blue tit (Cyanistes caeruleus) predators. Moths with two hindwing phenotypes (genotypes: WW/Wy = white, yy = yellow) were manipulated to have defense fluid with aversive smell (methoxypyrazines), body tissues with aversive taste (pyrrolizidine alkaloids) or both. In early predation stages, moth color and smell had additive effects on bird approach latency and dropping the prey, with the strongest effect for moths of the white morph with defense fluids. Pyrrolizidine alkaloid sequestration was detrimental in early attack stages, suggesting a trade-off between pyrrolizidine alkaloid sequestration and investment in other defenses. In addition, pyrrolizidine alkaloid taste alone did not deter bird predators. Birds could only effectively discriminate toxic moths from non-toxic moths when neck fluids containing methoxypyrazines were present, at which point they abandoned attack at the consumption stage. As a result, moths of the white morph with an aversive methoxypyrazine smell and moths in the treatment with both chemical defenses had the greatest chance of survival. We suggest that methoxypyrazines act as context setting signals for warning colors and as attention alerting or "go-slow" signals for distasteful toxins, thereby mediating the relationship between warning signal and toxicity. Furthermore, we found that moths that were heterozygous for hindwing coloration had more effective defense fluids compared to other genotypes in terms of delaying approach and reducing the latency to drop the moth, suggesting a genetic link between coloration and defense that could help to explain the color polymorphism. Conclusively, these results indicate that color, smell, and taste constitute a multimodal warning signal that impedes predator attack and improves prey survival. This work highlights the importance of understanding the separate roles of color, smell and taste through the predation sequence and also within-species variation in chemical defenses.
  • Rojas, Bibiana; Burdfield-Steel, Emily; De Pasqual, Chiara; Gordon, Swanne; Hernandez, Linda; Mappes, Johanna; Nokelainen, Ossi; Ronka, Katja; Lindstedt, Carita (2018)
    Chemically defended animals often display conspicuous color patterns that predators learn to associate with their unprofitability and subsequently avoid. Such animals (i.e., aposematic), deter predators by stimulating their visual and chemical sensory channels. Hence, aposematism is considered to be "multimodal." The evolution of warning signals (and to a lesser degree their accompanying chemical defenses) is fundamentally linked to natural selection by predators. Lately, however, increasing evidence also points to a role of sexual selection shaping warning signal evolution. One of the species in which this has been shown is the wood tiger moth, Arctia plantaginis, which we here put forward as a promising model to investigate multimodality in aposematic and sexual signaling. A. plantaginis is an aposematic diurnal moth which exhibits sexually dimorphic coloration as well as sex-limited polymorphism in part of its range. The anti-predator function of its coloration and, more recently, its chemical defenses (even when experimentally decoupled from the visual signals), has been well-demonstrated. Interestingly, recent studies have revealed differences between the two male morphs in mating success, suggesting a role of coloration in mate choice or attraction, and providing a possible explanation for its sexual dimorphism in coloration. Here, we: (1) review the lines of evidence showing the role of predation pressure and sexual selection in the evolution of multimodal aposematic signals in general, and in the wood tiger moth in particular; (2) establish gaps in current research linking sexual selection and predation as selective pressures on aposematic signals by reviewing a sample of the literature published in the last 30 years; (3) highlight the need of identifying suitable systems to address simultaneously the effect of natural and sexual selection on multimodal aposematic signals; and (4) propose directions for future research to test how aposematic signals can evolve under natural and sexual selection.
  • Hamalainen, Liisa; Mappes, Johanna; Rowlane, Hannah M.; Thorogood, Rose (2019)
    Aposematism is an effective antipredator strategy. However, the initial evolution and maintenance of aposematism are paradoxical because conspicuous prey are vulnerable to attack by naive predators. Consequently, the evolution of aposematic signal mimicry is also difficult to explain. The cost of conspicuousness can be reduced if predators learn about novel aposematic prey by observing another predator's response to that same prey. On the other hand, observing positive foraging events might also inform predators about the presence of undefended mimics, accelerating predation on both mimics and their defended models. It is currently unknown, however, how personal and social information combines to affect the fitness of aposematic prey. For example, does social information become more useful when predators have already ingested toxins and need to minimize further consumption? We investigated how toxin load influences great tits' (Parus major) likelihood to use social information about novel aposematic prey, and how it alters predation risk for undefended mimics. Birds were first provided with mealworms injected with bitter-tasting chloroquine (or a water-injected control), before information about a novel unpalatable prey phenotype was provided via video playback (either prey alone, or of a great tit tasting the noxious prey). An experimentally increased toxin load made great tits warier to attack prey, but only if they lacked social information about unpalatable prey. Socially educated birds consumed fewer aposematic prey relative to a cryptic phenotype, regardless of toxin load. In contrast, after personally experiencing aposematic prey, birds ignored social information about palatable mimics and were hesitant to sample them. Our results suggest that social information use by predators could be a powerful force in facilitating the evolution of aposematism as it reduces predation pressure on aposematic prey, regardless of a predator's toxin load. Nevertheless, observing foraging events of others is unlikely to alter frequency-dependent dynamics among models and mimics, although this may depend on predators having recent personal experience of the model's unpalatability. A plain language summary is available for this article.
  • Burgas, Daniel; Ovaskainen, Otso; Blanchet, F. Guillaume; Byholm, Patrik (2021)
    Despite the wide recognition that strongly interacting species can influence distributions of other species, species interactions are often disregarded when assessing or projecting biodiversity distributions. In particular, it remains largely uncharted the extent to which the disappearance of a keystone species cast repercussions in the species composition of future communities. We tested whether an avian top predator can exert both positive and negative effects on spatial distribution of other species, and if these effects persist even after the predator disappeared. We acquired bird count data at different distances from occupied and non-occupied nests of Northern goshawks Accipiter gentilis. Using a Bayesian joint species distribution model, we found that large bird species (preferred prey) are less abundant in the proximity of nests occupied by goshawks, whereas smaller species -expected to get protection from subordinate predators displaced by goshawks- more often showed an opposite association. These spatial differences level off gradually, but still persist for years after the goshawks have disappeared. This indicates that the composition of local bird populations and communities might be conditional on past species interactions. Therefore, endeavors centered around species distributions could largely benefit from acknowledging the local extinction of keystone species.