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Anim Behav. 2011 Jan;81(1):177-184.

Threat-sensitive anti-intraguild predation behaviour: maternal strategies to reduce offspring predation risk in mites.

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1
Department of Applied Plant Sciences and Plant Biotechnology, Institute of Plant Protection, University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences, Austria.

Abstract

Predation is a major selective force for the evolution of behavioural characteristics of prey. Predation among consumers competing for food is termed intraguild predation (IGP). From the perspective of individual prey, IGP differs from classical predation in the likelihood of occurrence because IG prey is usually more rarely encountered and less profitable because it is more difficult to handle than classical prey. It is not known whether IGP is a sufficiently strong force to evolve interspecific threat sensitivity in antipredation behaviours, as is known from classical predation, and if so whether such behaviours are innate or learned. We examined interspecific threat sensitivity in antipredation in a guild of predatory mite species differing in adaptation to the shared spider mite prey (i.e. Phytoseiulus persimilis, Neoseiulus californicus and Amblyseius andersoni). We first ranked the players in this guild according to the IGP risk posed to each other: A. andersoni was the strongest IG predator; P. persimilis was the weakest. Then, we assessed the influence of relative IGP risk and experience on maternal strategies to reduce offspring IGP risk: A. andersoni was insensitive to IGP risk. Threat sensitivity in oviposition site selection was induced by experience in P. persimilis but occurred independently of experience in N. californicus. Irrespective of experience, P. persimilis laid fewer eggs in choice situations with the high- rather than low-risk IG predator. Our study suggests that, similar to classical predation, IGP may select for sophisticated innate and learned interspecific threat-sensitive antipredation responses. We argue that such responses may promote the coexistence of IG predators and prey.

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