Varying predator personalities generates contrasting prey communities in an agroecosystem
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Most taxa show consistent individual differences in behavior, a phenomenon often referred to as animal "personalities." While the links between individual personality and fitness have received considerable attention, little information is available on how animal personality impacts higher-order ecological processes, such as community dynamics. Using a mesocosm experiment, we subjected a representative community of alfalfa pests to different compositions of personality types of the wolf spider Pardosa milvina. We show that subtle variation in the personality composition of P. milvina populations generate wildly different prey communities, where a mixture of both active and sedentary individuals performs best at suppressing prey abundance. Our results provide the first experimental evidence that predator personality types can generate contrasting prey communities. Moreover, our results suggest that manipulating the representation of predator personality types may be a profitable avenue by which one can maximize the biocontrol potential of predator populations.
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