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Behavioral and ecophysiological responses of a generalist predator to single- and mixed-species diets of different quality

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Abstract

Prey of different quality can be distinguished by their effects on fitness parameters (e.g., survival, growth, development) of the predator. This paper describes a series of experiments with wolf spiders, Schizocosa sp., designed to analyze the behavioral and physiological mechanisms by which these effects are brought about. Schizocosa responded to prey of inferior quality by developing an aversion. The number of prey encounters needed for the aversion to develop depended on the prey type and the quality of alternative prey available. As expected, fewer low-quality prey were accepted if prey of higher quality were available; however, acceptance was also reduced if alternative prey were of even lower quality. An aversion disappeared within a few hours to about 1 day. Consumption by Schizocosa of even small amounts of some “toxic” prey species reduced growth by inhibiting feeding rate and impairing utilization of food derived from prey of higher quality. These results have implications for understanding the interactions of generalist predators in community food webs.

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Received: 29 July 1998 / Accepted: 1 February 1999

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Toft, S., Wise, D. Behavioral and ecophysiological responses of a generalist predator to single- and mixed-species diets of different quality. Oecologia 119, 198–207 (1999). https://doi.org/10.1007/s004420050777

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s004420050777

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