Cost of autotomy drives ontogenetic switching of anti-predator mechanisms under developmental constraints in a land snail

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15 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Autotomy of body parts offers various prey animals immediate benefits of survival in compensation for considerable costs. I found that a land snail Satsuma caliginosa of populations coexisting with a snaileating snake Pareas iwasakii survived the snake predation by autotomizing its foot, whereas those out of the snake range rarely survived. Regeneration of a lost foot completed in a few weeks but imposed a delay of shell growth. Imprints of autotomy were found in greater than 10 per cent of S. caliginosa in the snake range but in only less than 1 per cent out of it, simultaneously demonstrating intense predation by the snakes and high efficiency of autotomy for surviving snake predation in the wild. However, in experiments, mature S. caliginosa performed autotomy less frequently. Instead of the costly autotomy, they can use defensive denticles on the inside of their shell apertures. Owing to the constraints from the additive growth of shells, most pulmonate snails can produce these denticles only when they have fully grown up. Thus, this developmental constraint limits the availability of the modified aperture, resulting in ontogenetic switching of the alternative defences. This study illustrates how costs of adaptation operate in the evolution of life-history strategies under developmental constraints.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4811-4816
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Volume279
Issue number1748
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Anti-predator adaptation
  • Capture-mark-recapture
  • Fitness trade-off
  • Life-history evolution
  • Predator-prey interaction
  • Regeneration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)

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