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A predator’s body coloration enhances its foraging profitability by day and night

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Abstract

Few predators forage by both day and night. It remains unknown, however, how the costs and benefits of foraging or signaling are partitioned in animals that forage at all times. The orb-web spider Cyrtophora moluccensis is brightly colored and forages by day and night. We determined the benefits reaped when it forages by both day and night by estimating the biomass of prey caught in their webs. Additionally, we quantified whether the spider’s presence influences the number of prey caught by day and night and whether its colorful body is visible to diurnal and/or nocturnal insects using diurnal and nocturnal insect vision models. We found that approximately five times the biomass of prey was caught in C. moluccensis’ webs by night than by day. Hemipterans, hymenopterans, and dipterans were predominantly caught by day, while lepidopterans (moths) were predominately caught by night. Accordingly, we concluded that foraging by night is more profitable than foraging by day. We predicted that other benefits, for example, energetic advantages or enhanced fecundity, may promote its daytime activity. Foraging success was greater by day and night when the spider was present in the web than when the spider was absent. We also found that parts of the spider’s body were conspicuous to diurnal and nocturnal insects, possibly through different visual channels. The colorful body of C. moluccensis, accordingly, appears to influence its foraging success by attracting prey during both the day and night.

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Acknowledgments

The study was funded by National Science Council, Taiwan (NSC-99-2632-B-029-001-MY3, NSC-102-2311-B-029-001-MY3) and Tunghai University Global Research and Education on Environment and Society (GREEnS) project grants to I.M.T and a NSC postdoctoral grant (NSC-102-2811-B-029-001) to S.J.B.

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Correspondence to I-Min Tso.

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Communicated by D. Kemp

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Electronic Supplementary Material Fig 1

Measured spectra of (a) the white shoulder points on the dorsum, (b) the white bands on the front end of the dorsum, (c) the orange spots on the dorsum, (d) the yellow stripes on the ventrum, (e) the green dorsal region, and (f) a comparison of all five body parts. Showing individual measurements and means for each body part compared to a tropical forest understory background. To attain these spectra we used an Ocean Optics USB4000 spectrometer equipped with Y-shaped reflection probe (Ocean Optics QR200-7UV-VIS), consisting of six illumination fibers and one reading fiber, and an Ocean Optics halogen light source (DH 2000). A Labsphere certified reflectance white standard (AS-01158-060) was used to calibrate the spectrometer. The area captured for each body part was ~4 mm2 and the integration time was ~150 ms. (GIF 99 kb)

High resolution image (EPS 465 kb)

Electronic Supplementary Material Fig 2

Number of individuals of the insect Orders Lepidoptera (Lep), Blattodea (Bla), Hymenoptera (Hym), Orthoptera (Ort), Coleoptera (Col), Hemiptera (Hem), Diptera (Dip) and unidentified (UN) caught in the daytime and nighttime over 5 days. A permutated Pearson’s χ 2 test based on 20,000 replicates found significant differences between daytime and nighttime compositions (χ 2 = 16.43, p = 0.011). (GIF 13 kb)

High resolution image (EPS 58 kb)

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Blamires, S.J., Hou, C., Chen, LF. et al. A predator’s body coloration enhances its foraging profitability by day and night. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 68, 1253–1260 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00265-014-1736-5

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00265-014-1736-5

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