, Volume 190, Issue 2, pp 297–308 | Cite as

Habitat structure changes the relationships between predator behavior, prey behavior, and prey survival rates

  • James L. L. LichtensteinEmail author
  • Karis A. Daniel
  • Joanna B. Wong
  • Colin M. Wright
  • Grant Navid Doering
  • Raul Costa-Pereira
  • Jonathan N. Pruitt
Highlighted Student Research


The individual behavioral traits of predators and prey sometimes determine the outcome of their interactions. Here, we examine whether changes to habitat complexity alter the effects of predator and prey behavior on their survival rates. Specifically, we test whether behavioral traits (activity level, boldness, and perch height) measured in predators and prey or multivariate behavioral volumes best predict the survival rates of both trophic levels in staged mesocosms with contrasting structural complexity. Behavioral volumes and hypervolumes are a composite group-level behavioral diversity metric built from the individual-level behavioral traits we measured in predators and prey. We stocked mesocosms with a host plant and groups of cannibalistic predators (n = 5 mantises/mesocosm) and their prey (n = 15 katydids/mesocosm), and mesocosms varied in the presence/absence of additional non-living climbing structures. We found that mantis survival rates were unrelated to any behavioral metric considered here, but were higher in structurally complex mesocosms. Unexpectedly, katydids were more likely to survive when mantis groups occupied larger behavioral volumes, indicating that more behaviorally diverse predator groups are less lethal. Katydid mortality was also increased when both predators and prey exhibited higher average perch heights, but this effect was increased by the addition of supplemental structure. This is consistent with the expectation that structural complexity increases the effect of intraspecific behavioral variation on prey survival rates. Collectively, these results convey that the effects of predator and prey behavior on prey survival could depend highly on the environment in which they are evaluated.


Hypervolumes Temperament Behavioral syndromes Mantidae Tettigoniidae 



Funding for this research was provided by the University of California (Santa Barbara), National Science Foundation grant awards to JNP (1352705 and 1455895), and a National Institutes of Health grant awarded to JNP (R01GM115509). We also thank the Pymatuning Laboratory of Ecology of the University of Pittsburgh for hosting our research. Particularly we thank Dr. Cori Richards-Zawacki and Chris Davis for helping navigate the process of working at a research institution not affiliated with our own.

Author contribution statement

JLLL designed the experiment, collected data, and wrote the manuscript. KAD and JBW contributed to data collection and writing. GND calculated behavioral volumes and contributed to writing. RCP performed path analyses and contributed to writing. CMW and JNP helped with experimental design and writing. All authors approved the manuscript in its current form.

Supplementary material

442_2019_4344_MOESM1_ESM.docx (85 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (docx 85 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Marine BiologyUniversity of California Santa BarbaraSanta BarbaraUSA
  2. 2.Department of BiologyWilson CollegeChambersburgUSA
  3. 3.Department of BiologyDalhousie UniversityHalifaxCanada
  4. 4.Department of EcologySão Paolo State UniversitySão PaoloBrazil

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