Trade-offs between juvenile survival and the development of sexually selected traits can cause ontogenetic conflict between life stages that constrains adaptive evolution. However, the potential for ecological interactions to alter the presence or strength of these trade-offs remains largely unexplored. Antagonistic selection over the accumulation and storage of resources could be one common cause of environment-specific trade-offs between life stages: higher condition may simultaneously enhance adult ornament development and increase juvenile vulnerability to predators. We tested this hypothesis in an ornamented dragonfly (Pachydiplax longipennis). Higher larval body condition indeed enhanced the initial development of its intrasexually selected wing coloration, but was opposed by viability selection in the presence of large aeshnid predators. In contrast, viability selection did not oppose larval body condition in pools when aeshnids were absent, and was not affected when we manipulated cannibalism risk. Trade-offs between larval survival and ornament development, mediated through the conflicting effects of body condition, therefore occurred only under high predation risk. We additionally characterized how body condition influences several traits associated with predator avoidance. Although body condition did not affect burst distance, it did increase larval abdomen size, potentially making larvae easier targets for aeshnid predators. As high body condition similarly increases vulnerability to predators in many other animals, predator-mediated costs of juvenile resource accumulation could be a common, environment-specific limitation on the elaboration of sexually selected traits.
Oecologia – Springer Journals
Published: May 28, 2018
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