Evolution of a predator-induced, nonlinear reaction norm

Mauricio J. Carter, Martin I. Lind, Stuart R. Dennis, William Hentley, Andrew P. Beckerman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Inducible, anti-predator traits are a classic example of phenotypic plasticity. Their evolutionary dynamics depend on their genetic basis, the historical pattern of predation risk that populations have experienced and current selection gradients. When populations experience predators with contrasting hunting strategies and size preferences, theory suggests contrasting micro-evolutionary responses to selection. Daphnia pulex is an ideal species to explore the microevolutionary response of anti-predator traits because they face heterogeneous predation regimes, sometimes experiencing only invertebrate midge predators and other times experiencing vertebrate fish and invertebrate midge predators. We explored plausible patterns of adaptive evolution of a predator-induced morphological reaction norm. We combined estimates of selection gradients that characterize the various habitats that D. pulex experiences with detail on the quantitative genetic architecture of inducible morphological defences. Our data reveal a fine scale description of daphnid defensive reaction norms, and a strong covariance between the sensitivity to cues and the maximum response to cues. By analysing the response of the reaction norm to plausible, predator-specific selection gradients,we showhowin the context of this covariance, micro-evolution may be more uniform than predicted from size-selective predation theory. Our results show how covariance between the sensitivity to cues and the maximum response to cues for morphological defence can shape the evolutionary trajectory of predator-induced defences in D. pulex.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20170859
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1861
Publication statusPublished - 30 Aug 2017


  • Daphnia pulex
  • Evolution
  • Morphological defence
  • Predator-induced plasticity
  • Reaction norm

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine
  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • General Biochemistry,Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Environmental Science
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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