Document Type


Original Publication Date


Journal/Book/Conference Title

Ecology and Evolution





DOI of Original Publication



Originally published at:

Date of Submission

April 2016


To adaptively express inducible defenses, prey must gauge risk based on indirect cues of predation. However, the information contained in indirect cues that enable prey to fine-tune their phenotypes to variation in risk is still unclear. In aquatic systems, research has focused on cue concentration as the key variable driving threat-sensitive responses to risk. However, while risk is measured as individuals killed per time, cue concentration may vary with either the number or biomass killed. Alternatively, fine-grained variation in cue, that is, frequency of cue pulses irrespective of concentration, may provide a more reliable signal of risk. Here, we present results from laboratory experiments that examine the relationship between red-eyed treefrog tadpole growth and total cue, cue per pulse, and cue pulse frequency. We also reanalyze an earlier study that examined the effect of fine-grained variation in predator cues on wood frog tadpole growth. Both studies show growth declines with increasing cue pulse frequency, even though individual pulses in high-frequency treatments contained very little cue. This result suggests that counter to earlier conclusions, tadpoles are using fine-grained variation in cue arising from the number of predation events to assess and respond to predation risk, as predicted by consumer–resource theory.


© 2015 The Authors. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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