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Biol Lett. Aug 23, 2010; 6(4): 449–452.
Published online Feb 17, 2010. doi:  10.1098/rsbl.2009.1082
PMCID: PMC2936218
Notonecta exhibit threat-sensitive, predator-induced dispersal
Shannon J. McCauley* and Locke Rowe
Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, University of Toronto, 25 Willcocks Street, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M5S 3B2
*Author for correspondence (shannon.mccauley/at/utoronto.ca).
Received December 29, 2009; Accepted January 29, 2010.
Abstract
Dispersal is a central process determining community structure in heterogeneous landscapes, and species interactions within habitats may be a major determinant of dispersal. Although the effects of species interactions on dispersal within habitats have been well studied, how species interactions affect the movement of individuals between habitats in a landscape has received less attention. We conducted two experiments to assess the extent to which predation risk affects dispersal from an aquatic habitat by a flight-capable semi-aquatic insect (Notonecta undulata). Exposure to non-lethal (caged) fish fed conspecifics increased dispersal rates in N. undulata. Moreover, dispersal rate was positively correlated with the level of risk imposed by the fish; the greater the number of notonectids consumed by the caged fish, the greater the dispersal rate from the habitat. These results suggest that risk within a habitat can affect dispersal among habitats in a landscape and thus affect community structure on a much greater scale than the direct effect of predation itself.
Keywords: predator–prey, Notonecta, dispersal, remote-control effects
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