Journal of Chemical Ecology

, Volume 42, Issue 10, pp 1047–1051 | Cite as

Chemical Defense as a Condition-Dependent Trait in Harvestmen

  • Taís M. Nazareth
  • Daniela B. Sudatti
  • Glauco Machado
Rapid Communication


The expression of costly traits often depends on the amount of food available to the individuals. Chemical defenses are costly, thus their production should be condition-dependent. Here, we tested the hypothesis that an increase in food availability and an acetate-supplemented diet will increase the production of chemical defenses by the harvestman Magnispina neptunus, which releases alkylated benzoquinones biosynthesized using acetate as a precursor. We manipulated the diet of the individuals and created four experimental groups: well-fed with acetate, well-fed without acetate, poorly-fed with acetate, and poorly-fed without acetate. Well-fed individuals produced secretions with higher mass and concentration of benzoquinones than poorly-fed individuals, but we detected no significant effect of the acetate supplement. Thus, the production of benzoquinones is condition-dependent, and even short periods of dietary restriction may make individuals more vulnerable to predators, imposing fitness consequences to chemically-protected arthropods that biosynthesize their own defensive compounds.


Benzoquinone Costs Dietary restriction Food availability Parental care Arachnida Opiliones 



We thank S. Rodrigues and R. Crespo for logistical support at LaReMN-UFF, A.H. Januário, A. González, M.F.K. Becker, B.A. Buzatto, N. Chaline, A. Arab, and two anonymous reviewers for comments on the manuscript, and FAPESP (2011/50800-8, 2012/50229-1) and CNPq (306550/2014-8) for financial support.

Supplementary material

10886_2016_749_MOESM1_ESM.doc (479 kb)
ESM 1 (DOC 479 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Taís M. Nazareth
    • 1
  • Daniela B. Sudatti
    • 2
  • Glauco Machado
    • 1
  1. 1.LAGE do Departamento de Ecologia, Instituto de BiociênciasUniversidade de São PauloSão PauloBrazil
  2. 2.Departamento de Biologia Marinha, Instituto de BiologiaUniversidade Federal FluminenseNiteróiBrazil

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