Fear of predation alters clone-specific performance in phloem-feeding prey

Sci Rep. 2017 Aug 9;7(1):7695. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-07723-6.


Fear of predation has been shown to affect prey fitness and behaviour, however, to date little is known about the underlying genetics of responses to predator-associated risk. In an effort to fill this gap we exposed four naïve clones of green peach aphid (Myzus persicae), maintained on the model crop Brassica oleracea, to different types of cues from aphid lion (Chrysoperla carnea). The respective predation risks, we termed Fear Factors, were either lethal (consumption by predator), or non-lethal (non-consumptive predator-associated cues: plant-tethered predator cadavers and homogenised shoot-sprayed or soil-infused blends of predator remains). Our results show that the non-lethal risk cues differentially impeded prey reproductive success that varied by clone, suggesting genotype-specific response to fear of predation. Furthermore, whether plants were perceived as being safe or risky influenced prey responses as avoidance behaviour in prey depended on clone type. Our findings highlight that intra-specific genetic variation underlies prey responses to consumptive and non-consumptive effects of predation. This allows selection to act on anti-predator responses to fear of predation that may ramify and influence higher trophic levels in model agroecosystems.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Aphids / physiology
  • Cues
  • Ecology
  • Fear*
  • Genetic Variation
  • Herbivory*
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions
  • Phloem*
  • Predatory Behavior*