Prey perception of predation risk: volatile chemical cues mediate non-consumptive effects of a predator on a herbivorous insect

Sara L. Hermann, Jennifer S. Thaler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations

Abstract

Predators can affect prey in two ways—by reducing their density (consumptive effects) or by changing their behavior, physiology or other phenotypic traits (non-consumptive effects). Understanding the cues and sensory modalities prey use to detect predators is critical for predicting the strength of non-consumptive effects and the outcome of predator–prey encounters. While predator-associated cues have been well studied in aquatic systems, less is known about how terrestrial prey, particularly insect larvae, detect their predators. We evaluated how Colorado potato beetle, Leptinotarsa decemlineata, larvae perceive predation risk by isolating cues from its stink bug predator, the spined soldier bug, Podisus maculiventris. When exposed to male “risk” predators that were surgically manipulated so they could hunt but not kill, beetles reduced feeding 29 % compared to controls. Exposure to risk females caused an intermediate response. Beetles ate 24 % less on leaves pre-exposed to predators compared to leaves never exposed to predators, indicating that tactile and visual cues are not required for the prey’s response. Volatile odor cues from predators reduced beetle feeding by 10 % overall, although male predators caused a stronger reduction than females. Finally, visual cues from the predator had a weak effect on beetle feeding. Because multiple cues appear to be involved in prey perception of risk, and because male and female predators have differential effects, beetle larvae likely experience tremendous variation in the information about risk from their local environment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)669-676
Number of pages8
JournalOecologia
Volume176
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 24 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

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