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Can contrasting habitats influence predatory behavior in tropical forest scorpions?


Predation strategies are often habitat-dependent; therefore, contrasting biomes, such as rainforests and seasonally dry forests, may be useful for understanding how the environment influences predatory behavior. The aim of this study was to evaluate the prey capture behavior of scorpions from contrasting habitats in northeastern Brazil. The scorpions’ use of the stinger and movement probability after prey capture were analyzed. We collected 120 scorpions, 60 from the Atlantic Forest and 60 from the Caatinga drylands. Our results indicate that scorpions from the Atlantic Forest tended to use their stinger more frequently than those from the Caatinga habitat. We also found that Caatinga scorpions moved approximately 40% more after prey capture than the Atlantic Forest species. Environmental pressures related to the metabolic costs of venom production and potential predation risk may partially explain the differential behavior observed in this study. Therefore, our results suggest that despite the morphological differences between species, animals from contrasting habitats may show different prey capture strategies.

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We are grateful to the two anonymous referees and the editor Matthieu Paquet for their valuable comments for the improvement of our manuscript.


This study was supported by Fundação de Amparo à Ciência e Tecnologia do Estado de Pernambuco-FACEPE for undergraduate scholarship (BIC-0884–2.04/21) to HPC, and a postdoctoral scholarship (BFP-0121–2.05/20) to AFAL. We also thank the Estonian Research Council for providing financial support for the development of this study (grant PRG741).

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Experimental design was planned by AFAL, ABS, and GJBM. The fieldwork and laboratory experiments were conducted by AFAL, ABS, and HPC. The manuscript was drafted by HPC. Data analyses were provided by SIAF. All authors contributed equally for the revision of the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Henrique P. Cunha.

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Experiments using invertebrate animals conducted in Brazil do not require approval by the Ethics Committees, as established by the Brazilian Council for the Control of Animal Experimentation (CONCEA) (Law 11.794/08, § 3).

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The authors declare no competing interests.

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Cunha, H.P., Santos, A.B., Foerster, S.Í.A. et al. Can contrasting habitats influence predatory behavior in tropical forest scorpions?. acta ethol 25, 107–113 (2022).

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  • Arachnids
  • Buthids
  • Predatory strategy
  • Venom use