Lack of preference for low-predation-risk habitats in larval damselflies explained by costs of intraspecific interactions
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Many studies indicate prey organisms select microhabitats with high structural complexity as a way of reducing risk of predation. We used laboratory experiments to show that damselfly larvae, Ischnura verticalis, suffer higher predation rates from pumpkinseed sunfish in low-density vegetation. However, larvae do not preferentially occupy microhabitats with high vegetation density in either the presence or absence of sunfish; when given a choice, the number of larvae per stem of vegetation was equal across all densities of vegetation. That larvae do not congregate in dense vegetation may reflect costs of aggressive interactions. Results from laboratory experiments indicated larval interactions increase conspicuous behaviours (most notably swimming) and consequently increase fish predation. A subsequent experiment indicated that frequency of larval interactions increases with increased vegetation density when number of larvae/stem is constant. Thus, larval microhabitat selection may reflect a trade-off between reduced risk of predation in areas of high vegetation density, caused by reduced fish foraging ability, and increased aggressive larval interactions, due to decreased proximity of larvae. Copyright 2000 The Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour.
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