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Costs of Exploiting Poisonous Prey: Evolutionary Trade-Offs in a Predator-Prey Arms Race

Edmund D. Brodie III and Edmund D. Brodie, Jr.
Evolution
Vol. 53, No. 2 (Apr., 1999), pp. 626-631
DOI: 10.2307/2640799
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2640799
Page Count: 6
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Costs of Exploiting Poisonous Prey: Evolutionary Trade-Offs in a Predator-Prey Arms Race
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Abstract

Evolutionary trade-offs often are expected to arise between traits that share similar functions or resources. Such costs are well known from a variety of coevolutionary systems, but examples are conspicuously absent from predator-prey interactions. We present evidence of a trade-off between two disparate functions-predatory and antipredatory ability-in a species of garter snake that has evolved resistance to the neurotoxin of its prey. Patterns of among-family variation suggest a genetic basis to the trade-off. Both resistant and nonresistant populations of snakes exhibit the trade-off, suggesting that it stems from a fundamental aspect of organismal performance. This cost may help to explain the geographic mosaic of predator exploitative ability and prey defense that exists in this system.

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