The multidimensional behavioural hypervolumes of two interacting species predict their space use and survival Academic Article uri icon

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  • Individual animals differ consistently in their behaviour, thus impacting a wide variety of ecological outcomes. Recent advances in animal personality research have established the ecological importance of the multidimensional behavioural volume occupied by individuals and by multispecies communities. Here, we examine the degree to which the multidimensional behavioural volume of a group predicts the outcome of both intra- and interspecific interactions. In particular, we test the hypothesis that a population of conspecifics will experience low intraspecific competition when the population occupies a large volume in behavioural space. We further hypothesize that populations of interacting species will exhibit greater interspecific competition when one or both species occupy large volumes in behavioural space. We evaluate these hypotheses by studying groups of katydids (Scudderia nymphs) and froghoppers (Philaenus spumarius), which compete for food and space on their shared host plant, Solidago canadensis. We found that individuals in single-species groups of katydids positioned themselves closer to one another, suggesting reduced competition, when groups occupied a large behavioural volume. When both species were placed together, we found that the survival of froghoppers was greatest when both froghoppers and katydids occupied a small volume in behavioural space, particularly at high froghopper densities. These results suggest that groups that occupy large behavioural volumes can have low intraspecific competition but high interspecific competition. Thus, behavioural hypervolumes appear to have ecological consequences at both the level of the population and the community and may help to predict the intensity of competition both within and across species.


  • Lichtenstein, James LL
  • Wright, Colin M
  • McEwen, Brendan
  • Pinter-Wollman, Noa
  • Pruitt, Jonathan

publication date

  • October 2017