It is truly amazing in how many different ways animals protect themselves against their predators. Not surprisingly, therefore, ecologists have been fascinated by such defenses for centuries. They have classified them according to certain criteria and then investigated the characteristics of each defense class, for example, how defense benefits depend on prey density. Defenses are also costly, however, and only advantageous if their benefits outweigh their costs. Cost-benefit analyses thus provide insights into the evolution of prey defenses.

While this article focuses on animal defenses, similar principles are valid for plant and host defenses.

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