Evolution of morphological defences
Understanding the ecology and evolution of morphological defences in animals and plants may help us to understand and protect biodiversity. Several species of dragonfly larvae express lateral and dorsal abdominal spines. In some species these spines seem to be fixed, and in others they are induced by the presence of predatory fish. Larger spines are adaptations to reduce predation risk by fish, but incur a cost because large spines are associated with a higher predation risk by invertebrate predators. The difference in vulnerability to different predators has the potential to affect temporal and spatial variation in the morphology of dragonfly larvae, and may ultimately result in speciation. Future focus on the joint evolution of correlated defensive traits such as morphology and behaviour and their plasticity might be fruitful for a better understanding of the development of animal diversity.
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