- Predators marked with chemical cues from one prey have increased attack success on another prey species
- Ecological Entomology
- Volume | Issue number
- 40 | 1
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Science (FNWI)
- Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics (IBED)
1. To reduce the risk of being eaten by predators, prey alter their morphology or behaviour. This response can be tuned to the current danger if chemical or other cues associated with predators inform the prey about the risks involved.
2. It is well known that various prey species discriminate between chemical cues from predators that fed on conspecific prey and those that fed on heterospecific prey, and react stronger to the first. It is therefore expected that generalist predators are more successful in capturing a given prey species when they are contaminated with chemical cues from another prey species instead of cues from the same prey species.
3. Here, a generalist predatory mite was studied that feeds on thrips larvae as well as on whitefly eggs and crawlers. Mites were marked with cues (i.e. body fluids) of one of these two prey species and were subsequently offered thrips larva.
4. Predators marked with thrips cues killed significantly fewer thrips than predators marked with whitefly cues, even though the predator's tendency to attack was the same. In addition, more thrips larvae sought refuge in the presence of a predatory mite marked with thrips cues instead of whitefly cues.
5. This suggests that generalist predators may experience improved attack success when switching prey species.
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