Prey abundance vs diet breadth in a spider test system
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‘Decisions’ made as to what prey types to include in the diet were analysed for two populations of the spider,Agelenopsis aperta existing under markedly different prey availability and predation levels. Potential prey types were ranked as to their relative profitabilities with respect to energy gain per handling effort and predation risk. Members of the population experiencing limited prey availability but low risk of predation to visually hunting predators exhibited a significantly higher capture attempt rate towards all prey encountered than the population for which prey were abundant but for which predation was a significant problem. Neither spider population preferentially attacked prey that exhibited higher profitability rankings. An experiment was completed that indicates thatA. aperta can discriminate between more and less profitable prey. Suggestions are made as to why the population experiencing abundant food did not exhibit a narrower diet when compared to the population existing under limited food.
KeywordsDiet choice spiders predation risk prey behaviour ecotypes foraging desert
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