Individual responses to population size structure

the role of size variation in controlling expression of a trophic polyphenism

T. J. Maret, James Collins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

48 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

We investigated how size structure affects development of alternative larval phenotypes in Arizona tiger salamanders, Ambystoma tigrinum nebulosum, by testing the hypothesis that population size structure per se is a significant component of an individual's environment. Larvae of this subspecies exhibit one of two feeding phenotypes; typical larvae eat zooplankton and macroinvertebrates and cannibalistic larvae feed primarily on conspecifics. Previous laboratory experiments showed that larval density positively affected expression of the cannibalistic phenotype. In this study we tested the hypothesis that size variation among larvae also serves as a cue triggering development of the cannibalistic phenotype. We report laboratory experiments and field observations showing that both an individual larva's position in a size distribution and the amount of size vaiation among larvae serve as cues stimulating development of cannibalistic larvae. Larval density and population size structure provide a larva with an indication of the abundance and vulnerability of potential conspecific prey. Size variation among larvae, in turn, appears to be influenced by larval density. Thus, a complex relationship exists between larval density, population size structure, and the frequency of cannibals within a habitat.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)279-285
Number of pages7
JournalOecologia
Volume100
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1994

Fingerprint

size structure
population size
larva
larvae
phenotype
Ambystoma tigrinum
polyphenism
Ambystoma
macroinvertebrates
macroinvertebrate
subspecies
zooplankton
vulnerability
habitat
habitats

Keywords

  • Ambystoma tigrinum nebulosum
  • Competitive bottleneck
  • Context-dependent behavior
  • Population size structure
  • Trophic polyphenism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology

Cite this

Individual responses to population size structure : the role of size variation in controlling expression of a trophic polyphenism. / Maret, T. J.; Collins, James.

In: Oecologia, Vol. 100, No. 3, 12.1994, p. 279-285.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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