Benefit-cost Trade-offs of Early Learning in Foraging Predatory Mites Amblyseius Swirskii

Author(s)
Inga C. Christiansen, Sandra Szin, Peter Schausberger
Abstract

Learning is changed behavior following experience, and ubiquitous in animals including plant-inhabiting predatory mites (Phytoseiidae). Learning has many benefits but also incurs costs, which are only poorly understood. Here, we addressed learning, especially its costs, in the generalist predatory mite Amblyseius swirskii, a biocontrol agent of several herbivores, which can also survive on pollen. The goals of our research were (1) to scrutinize if A. swirskii is able to learn during early life in foraging contexts and, if so, (2) to determine the costs of early learning. In the experiments, we used one difficult-to-grasp prey, i.e., thrips, and one easy-to-grasp prey, i.e., spider mites. Our experiments show that A. swirskii is able to learn during early life. Adult predators attacked prey experienced early in life (i.e., matching prey) more quickly than they attacked unknown (i.e., non-matching) prey. Furthermore, we observed both fitness benefits and operating (physiological) costs of early learning. Predators receiving the matching prey produced the most eggs, whereas predators receiving the non-matching prey produced the least. Thrips-experienced predators needed the longest for juvenile development. Our findings may be used to enhance A. swirskii's efficacy in biological control, by priming young predators on a specific prey early in life.

Organisation(s)
External organisation(s)
Universität für Bodenkultur Wien
Journal
Scientific Reports
Volume
6
No. of pages
11
ISSN
2045-2322
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1038/srep23571
Publication date
03-2016
Peer reviewed
Yes
Austrian Fields of Science 2012
106047 Animal ecology, 106051 Behavioural biology
Keywords
Portal url
https://ucris.univie.ac.at/portal/en/publications/benefitcost-tradeoffs-of-early-learning-in-foraging-predatory-mites-amblyseius-swirskii(5ed0a44d-0603-4cbe-aacc-968fb07929b8).html