Predator and prey activity levels jointly influence the outcome of long-term foraging bouts Academic Article uri icon

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  • Consistent interindividual differences in behavior (i.e., "behavioral types") may be a key factor in determining the outcome of species interactions. Studies that simultaneously account for the behavioral types of individuals in multiple interacting species, such as predator-prey systems, may be particularly strong predictors of ecological outcomes. Here, we test the predator-prey locomotor crossover hypothesis, which predicts that active predators are more likely to encounter and consume prey with the opposing locomotor tendency. We test this hypothesis using intraspecific behavioral variation in both a predator and prey species as predictors of foraging outcomes. We use the old field jumping spider, Phidippus clarus (Araneae, Salticidae), and the house cricket, Acheta domesticus (Orthoptera, Gryllidae), as a model predator-prey system in laboratory mesocosm trials. Stable individual differences in locomotor tendencies were identified in both P. clarus and A. domesticus, and the outcome of foraging bouts depended neither on the average activity level of the predator nor on the average activity level of prey. Instead, an interaction between the activity level of spiders and crickets predicted spider foraging success and prey survivorship. Consistent with the locomotor crossover hypothesis, predators exhibiting higher activity levels consumed more prey when in an environment containing low-activity prey items and vice versa. This study highlights 1) the importance of intraspecific variation in determining the outcome of predator-prey interactions and 2) that acknowledging behavioral variation in only a single species may be insufficient to characterize the performance consequences of intraspecific trait variants.


  • Sweeney, Kayla
  • Cusack, Brian
  • Armagost, Fawn
  • O’Brien, Timothy
  • Keiser, Carl N
  • Pruitt, Jonathan

publication date

  • 2013