The influence of predator regime on the behaviour and mortality of a freshwater amphipod, <i>Gammarus pulex</i>
In species with restricted dispersal, traits may become genetically fixed leading to local adaptations. Therefore, predator avoidance in a prey species may differ between populations experiencing different predator regimes, but also between sexes within a population due to different vulnerability to predators. In this study we used male and female Gammarus pulex from two different predator regimes: fishless ponds, where invertebrates are the dominant predators and ponds with predatory fish. In the laboratory we examined refuge use, mortality, leaf decomposition rate and pair-formation in G. pulex when exposed to predator cues from either invertebrate predators or fish. Individuals from fish ponds spent more time in refuge and had a higher mortality than those from fishless ponds independent of predator cues. There was no effect of pond predator regime or predator cues on leaf decomposition rates. Further, fewer individuals formed pairs in G. pulex from fish ponds than from fishless ponds. Male G. pulex had a higher mortality and a higher decomposition rate than females independent of predator cues. However, there was no difference in refuge use between sexes. Our study shows that there are general differences in behaviour traits, both between predator regimes and sexes in G. pulex .