Finely tuned response of native prey to an invasive predator in a freshwater system

Paul E. Bourdeau, Kevin L. Pangle, Emily M. Reed, Scott D. Peacor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Lack of shared evolutionary history reduces the expectation that native prey will detect and respond to invasive predators. Four mechanisms may explain the adaptive response that is nevertheless seen in various systems: prey may perceive the invasive predator through cue similarity with preexisting predators, cues of conspecifics eaten by the invasive predator, a learned response based on experience with the invasive predator (e.g., cue association), and cues from the invasive predator that are specific to it. We performed laboratory experiments in which zooplankton (Daphnia mendotae) responded adaptively to the zooplanktivore Bythotrephes longimanus (migrating downward), showed no response to taxonomically similar predatory cladocerans, and responded adaptively to more taxonomically distant native fish (migrating downward) and native shrimp (migrating upward). Conspecific cues associated with Bythotrephes predation actually reduced the response of D. mendotae to Bythotrephes. Combined with previous experiments that rule out learning, our experiments rule out the first three mechanisms above, demonstrating that D. mendotae respond to cues specific to and produced directly by Bythotrephes. This finely tuned response may be retained from an ancestral species that coevolved with Bythotrephes in its native range, or may have rapidly evolved due to strong selection by the invasive predator.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1449-1455
Number of pages7
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2013


  • Diel vertical migration
  • Great Lakes
  • Invasive species
  • Naïveté
  • Non-consumptive effect
  • Phenotypic plasticity
  • Predator-prey interaction


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