, Volume 20, Issue 6, pp 871–882 | Cite as

Development, lifespan and reproduction of spider mites exposed to predator-induced stress across generations

  • Guang-Yun Li
  • Zhi-Qiang ZhangEmail author
Research Article


Predator-induced stress shows pronounced effects on prey by inducing behavioural, morphological, and physiological responses. Increasing evidence shows that these antipredator responses may also lead to changes in life-history traits such as aging and lifespan. However, little is known about how predator cues influence the fitness of preys and their transgenerational effects. Parental spider mites (Tetranychus urticae) were either raised on a leaf disc with or without cues from a natural predator (Phytoseiulus persimilis). The results showed that predator cues prolonged the development of both sexes, shortened female adult lifespan but not that of males, and reduced lifetime reproductive outputs of the females. The studies with offspring from both cues-exposed and control mothers demonstrated that parental effects were significant in the early developmental stage of offspring, but not in later life stages. The lifespan of offspring was strongly negatively affected by the predator-induced stress when they were directly exposed but not the stress-experienced by their mothers. Additionally, the parental effects in the earlier life stage were sex-specific, with delayed hatching in daughters (but not sons) when parents were exposed to predator-induced stress. This cross-transgenerational study indicated that there were deleterious effects of predator-induced stress on aging and lifespan of prey for both parents and their offspring, although the parental effects appeared to be weak (in the early stage of offspring but diminished in adult stage). This study highlighted the sex-difference of prey in response to predator-induced stress and sex-dependent parental effects on the offspring.


Predator-induced stress Lifespan Development Reproduction Aging Transgenerational effects Sex difference 



We thank Prof William G. Lee and Anne Austin for the review and comments on the manuscript and Mr Chris Winks for laboratory assistance. GY Li is supported by a PhD scholarship from China Scholarship Council. This work is supported by New Zealand Government core funding for Crown Research Institutes from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Science and Innovation Group.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

No competing interests declared.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Biological SciencesUniversity of AucklandAucklandNew Zealand
  2. 2.Landcare ResearchAucklandNew Zealand

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