Javascript is not activated in your browser. This website needs javascript activated to work properly.
You are here

Predator induced morphological plasticity across local populations of a fresh water snail

  • Christer Brönmark
  • Thomas Lakowitz
  • Johan Hollander
Publishing year: 2011
Language: English
Publication/Series: PLoS ONE
Volume: 6
Issue: 7
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: Public Library of Science

Abstract english

The expression of anti-predator adaptations may vary on a spatial scale, favouring traits that are advantageous in a given predation regime. Besides, evolution of different developmental strategies depends to a large extent on the grain of the environment and may result in locally canalized adaptations or, alternatively, the evolution of phenotypic plasticity as different predation regimes may vary across habitats. We investigated the potential for predator-driven variability in shell morphology in a freshwater snail, Radix balthica, and whether found differences were a specialized ecotype adaptation or a result of phenotypic plasticity. Shell shape was quantified in snails from geographically separated pond populations with and without molluscivorous fish. Subsequently, in a common garden experiment we investigated reaction norms of snails from populations' with/without fish when exposed to chemical cues from tench (Tinca tinca), a molluscivorous fish. We found that snails from fish-free ponds had a narrow shell with a well developed spire, whereas snails that coexisted with fish had more rotund shells with a low spire, a shell morphology known to increase survival rate from shell-crushing predators. The common garden experiment mirrored the results from the field survey and showed that snails had similar reaction norms in response to chemical predator cues, i.e. the expression of shell shape was independent of population origin. Finally, we found significant differences for the trait means among populations, within each pond category (fish/fish free), suggesting a genetic component in the determination of shell morphology that has evolved independently across ponds.


  • Ecology


Johan Hollander
E-mail: johan [dot] hollander [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se


Division aquatic ecology

+46 46 222 34 73


Sölvegatan 37, Lund



Aquatic Ecology