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Data from: Egg-laying environment modulates offspring responses to predation risk in an amphibian

Cite this dataset

Tóth, Zoltán; Hettyey, Attila (2018). Data from: Egg-laying environment modulates offspring responses to predation risk in an amphibian [Dataset]. Dryad.


Predator-induced plasticity has been in the focus of evolutionary ecological research in the last decades, but the consequences of temporal variation in the presence of cues predicting offspring environment have remained controversial. This is partly due to the fact that the role of early environmental effects has scarcely been scrutinized in this context while also controlling for potential maternal effects. In this study we investigated how past environmental conditions, i.e. different combinations of risky or safe adult (pre-natal) and oviposition (early post-natal) environments affected offspring’s plastic responses in hatching time and locomotor activity to predation risk during development in the smooth newt (Lissotriton vulgaris). We found that females did not adjust their reproductive investment to the perceived level of risk in the adult environment, and this pre-natal environment had generally negligible effect on offspring phenotype. However, when predator cues were absent during oviposition, larvae raised in the presence of predator cues delayed their hatching and exhibited a decreased activity compared to control larvae developing without predator cues, which responses are advantageous when predators pose a threat to hatched larvae. In the presence of predator cues during oviposition, the difference in hatching time persisted,but the difference in general locomotor activity disappeared between risk-exposed and control larvae. Our findings provide clear experimental evidence that fine-scale temporal variation in a predictive cue during and after egg-laying interactively affect offspring phenotype, and highlight the importance of the early post-natal environment, which may exert a substantial influence on progeny’s phenotype also under natural conditions.

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