Theoretical models predict that predator-induced phenotypes should have lower fitness in the absence of predators. Tadpoles frequently respond to invertebrate predators by reducing activity levels and changing their body proportions. While some studies have shown that induced defenses in tadpoles reduce growth rates, others have found no effect. The aim of this study was to measure the effects of predator presence on energy expenditure in tadpoles. Predator exposure lowered overall metabolic rate by 19%, while specific dynamic action due to food consumption increased resting metabolism by 11%. Control tadpoles moved significantly more (93.6 ± 3.9 cm/min) than predator-exposed animals (50.1 ± 7.5 cm/min), and swimming increased metabolic rate by up to 400% compared to stationary tadpoles, indicating that activity can be energetically expensive and can consume as much as 37% of assimilated energy. These findings suggest that the costs of reduced foraging are context dependent and may even be beneficial in environments where high-quality resources are closely spaced but detrimental when extensive movement is required to obtain optimal resources for growth.
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