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Behavioral repeatability and personality in pit-building antlion larvae under differing environmental contexts

Abstract

Over the last decades, there has been growing interest among behavioral ecologists in exploring animal personalities. However, while the foraging behavior of active foragers has been extensively studied, only little is known about that of sit-and-wait predators within the personality framework. We investigated the existence of repeatability and personality in pit-building antlion larvae in the context of foraging (pit construction) and habitat selection (relocation distance and direction) over time and under three environmental contexts: thermal conditions, sand depth, and soil type. Over time, repeatability was much stronger for relocation distance than for movement directionality. Additionally, we observed positive correlations across the two levels of sand depth and soil type but not between thermal conditions. Change in substrate type may induce faster decision-making in these sand-dwelling insects or could be perceived by such insects as a more drastic alteration in their habitat. We suggest that different individuals indeed possess distinct personalities. We also suggest that repeatability should be measured at two levels: the amount of energy expenditure (distances and pit construction) and the pattern of energy expenditure (directionality). Finally, our study illustrates how differing environmental conditions can result in differing levels of plasticity, while largely preserving individual personalities.

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Acknowledgments

We are grateful to Aziz Subach for his help in the experimental design, Naama Snir for her assistance in the laboratory, and Naomi Paz for editorial assistance. The research leading to this manuscript was partially funded by the People Programme (Marie Curie Actions) of the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) under an REA grant agreement no. (333442) to IS.

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Correspondence to Yehonatan Alcalay or Ofer Ovadia.

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Communicated by W. O. H. Hughes

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Alcalay, Y., Ovadia, O. & Scharf, I. Behavioral repeatability and personality in pit-building antlion larvae under differing environmental contexts. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 68, 1985–1993 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00265-014-1804-x

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00265-014-1804-x

Keywords

  • Animal personality
  • Behavioral syndromes
  • Repeatability
  • Thermal ecology
  • Trap-building predators