Behavioural correlations and aggression in praying mantids

Fisher, Adam M, Holwell, Gregory L and Price, Tom AR ORCID: 0000-0002-4394-6301
(2020) Behavioural correlations and aggression in praying mantids. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 74 (5). 61-.

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<jats:sec> <jats:title>Abstract</jats:title> <jats:p>Distinct behaviours can co-vary within individuals. As such, the magnitude of certain behaviours may be partly predicted by other behaviours, rather than the environment. This can constrain behaviours, potentially reducing behavioural variability. Pre-copulatory sexual cannibalism, the consumption of potential mates before copulation, can lead to females remaining unmated, particularly if males are rare. One possible explanation for the persistence of pre-copulatory cannibalism is that sexual cannibalism is correlated with high levels of aggression towards prey. Here, we test this in two species of praying mantis: the highly cannibalistic <jats:italic>Miomantis caffra</jats:italic> and the less cannibalistic <jats:italic>Orthodera novaezealandiae</jats:italic>. If cannibalism in <jats:italic>M. caffra</jats:italic> is linked to aggression towards prey, we predicted that (1) <jats:italic>M. caffra</jats:italic> would be more aggressive towards prey than <jats:italic>O. novaezealandiae</jats:italic>, (2) female <jats:italic>M. caffra</jats:italic> would be more aggressive than males, (3) aggression towards prey would be correlated across juvenile and adult instars for <jats:italic>M. caffra</jats:italic> but not <jats:italic>O. novaezealandiae</jats:italic>, and (4) aggression towards prey would be associated with a propensity for sexual cannibalism among individual <jats:italic>M. caffra</jats:italic>. We found evidence supporting predictions one and two, but not predictions three and four. Surprisingly, aggression was shown to be repeatable and correlated across instars for <jats:italic>O. novaezealandiae</jats:italic> but not <jats:italic>M. caffra</jats:italic>. Our results suggest sexual cannibalism is not a product of behavioural co-variation, even in clades where sexual cannibalism is common. This suggests that sexual cannibalism evolves due to the direct benefits it brings to females, rather than being a by-product of high aggression towards heterospecific prey.</jats:p> </jats:sec><jats:sec> <jats:title>Significance statement</jats:title> <jats:p>In some animals, different behaviours co-vary within individuals. This may lead to the emergence of costly behaviours and reduce behavioural plasticity. It is theorized that pre-copulatory cannibalism is a costly behavioural by-product of selection for high levels of aggression towards prey. However, there are very few studies that explicitly test this. Here, we provide a behavioural comparison between two species of praying mantis that vary in their propensity to cannibalize and tested whether general aggression is linked cannibalism. We found that aggression towards prey in adults can be linked to juvenile aggression but not a propensity for cannibalism. Although cannibalism rates were higher in the species that was more aggressive towards prey, aggression towards prey was not linked to cannibalism within individuals. This suggests that pre-copulatory cannibalism is not a behavioural by-product but a result of direct selection.</jats:p> </jats:sec>

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Aggression, Repeatability, Personality, Plasticity, Mantis, Cannibalism
Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 09 Sep 2020 08:41
Last Modified: 14 Mar 2024 18:50
DOI: 10.1007/s00265-020-02839-8
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