- To be an intraguild predator or a cannibal: is prey profitability decisive?
- Ecological Entomology
- Volume | Issue number
- 31 | 5
- Pages (from-to)
- Number of pages
- Document type
- Faculty of Science (FNWI)
- Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics (IBED)
Abstract. 1. Many cannibalistic species are also intra-guild predators. Such predators will often face the decision whether to consume a conspecific or a heterospecific prey from the same guild. This decision may depend on the relative quality and abundance of the prey but also on other factors such as relatedness by descent, prey-specific defence and the probability of the victim harbouring shared diseases.
2. Here, intra-guild interactions among two cannibalistic species of predatory mites, Iphiseius degenerans and Neoseiulus cucumeris (Acari: Phytoseiidae) that belong to closely related genera were studied.
3. Individuals of I. degenerans were offered a diet of conspecifics or heterospecifics. Because I. degenerans is capable of recognising kin individuals from non-kin, and they were exclusively offered conspecifics that were either distantly related or non-kin, it was expected that it would not refrain from cannibalising for reasons of possible relatedness.
4. When corrected for numbers of victims eaten, survival, and juvenile development of predators fed with intra-guild prey was higher than that of cannibals. This was probably caused by a higher quality of heterospecific victims, even though conspecific victims were larger and therefore potentially contained more food. This led to the prediction that the predators should strongly prefer heterospecific prey. This was indeed borne out in independent choice experiments. Thus, the choice of predators between heterospecific and conspecific prey is not only affected by avoidance of consuming conspecifics, but also by relative prey quality.
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