Effects of predation by Hydra (Cnidaria) on cladocerans (Crustacea: Cladocera)

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Ligia Rivera-De la Parra
S.S.S. Sarma *
S. Nandini
(*) Corresponding Author:
S.S.S. Sarma | sarma@unam.mx

Abstract

Planktonic cladocerans have evolved different strategies to avoid predation from vertebrates; these include changes in morphology, behavior, physiology, and/or life-history traits. However, littoral cladocerans are better adapted to avoid invertebrate predation particularly from insect larvae by evolving morphological and physiological adaptations. Nevertheless, this has not been proven for some littoral predators such as Hydra. In this study, we provide quantitative data on how Hydra affects its zooplankton prey. We studied the predation behavior on Alona glabra, Ceridodaphnia dubia, Daphnia pulex, Daphnia cf. mendotae, Diaphanosoma birgei, Macrothrix triserialis, Moina macrocopa, Pleuroxus aduncus, Scapholeberis kingi, Simocephalus vetulus, Elaphoidella grandidieri, Brachionus rubens and Euchlanis dilatata. We also tested the indirect effect of allelochemicals from Hydra on the demography of Daphnia cf. mendotae. Littoral cladocerans are specially adapted to resist nematocyst injection and discharge of toxic substances from Hydra. A significant decrease in the population growth rate from 0.21 to 0.125 d-1 was observed at densities of 2 ind. ml-1. The role of carapace thickness as an adaptive strategy of littoral cladocerans against Hydra predation is discussed.

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