Social Familiarity Reduces Reaction Times and Enhances Survival of Group-Living Predatory Mites under the Risk of Predation

Author(s)
Markus Andreas Strodl, Peter Schausberger
Abstract

Background: Social familiarity, which is based on the ability to recognise familiar conspecific individuals following prior association, may affect all major life activities of group-living animals such as foraging, reproduction and anti-predator behaviours. A scarcely experimentally tested explanation why social familiarity is beneficial for group-living animals is provided by limited attention theory. Limited attention theory postulates that focusing on a given task, such as inspection and assessment of unfamiliar group members, has cognitive and associated physiological and behavioural costs with respect to the attention paid to other tasks, such as anti-predator vigilance and response. Accordingly, we hypothesised that social familiarity enhances the anti-predator success of group-living predatory mites, Phytoseiulus persimilis, confronted with an intraguild predator, the predatory mite Amblyseius andersoni.

Methodology/Principal Findings: We videotaped and analysed the response of two P. persimilis larvae, held in familiar or unfamiliar pairs, to attacks by a gravid A. andersoni female, using the behavioural analyses software EthoVision Pro (R). Familiar larvae were more frequently close together, reacted more quickly to predator attacks, survived more predator encounters and survived longer than unfamiliar larvae.

Significance: In line with the predictions of limited attention theory, we suggest that social familiarity improves antipredator behaviours because it allows prey to shift attention to other tasks rather than group member assessment.

Organisation(s)
External organisation(s)
Universität für Bodenkultur Wien
Journal
PLoS ONE
Volume
7
No. of pages
5
ISSN
1932-6203
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0043590
Publication date
08-2012
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/social-familiarity-reduces-reaction-times-and-enhances-survival-of-groupliving-predatory-mites-under-the-risk-of-predation(d28d9b9e-5f47-4920-882c-6ea768a85540).html