Do predators react differently to dangerous and larger prey? The case of a mygalomorph generalist spider preying upon insects.

Luis Fernando García-Hernández*, Cristian Rave, Karla Arcila, Carolina García, Luis Eduardo Robledo Ospina, Rodrigo H. Willemart

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Prey morphology and size are known to influence a predator's decision to attack and consume particular prey; however, studies that evaluate both traits simultaneously are uncommon. Here, we first described the trophic niche in the mygalomorph spider Paratropis sp. These spiders have a narrow trophic niche and feed mainly on sympatric species such as larvae of lepidopterans and of beetles such as carabids, passalids and scarabeids. Second, we evaluated the effect of prey taxon and size on acceptance and immobilization duration, and built an ethogram of the predator's behaviors. For each prey taxa, we offered large (approximately same size than the spider) and small larvae (approximately half of the size of the spider) of the aforementioned prey. We classified carabid beetle larvae as the most dangerous prey because of their sharp mandibles and predatory habits, followed by scarabeid larvae; lepidopteran and passalids larvae were considered to be non-dangerous prey. We did not find a significant effect of prey taxon or size on spiders' acceptance. Prey size did not affect the time invested on each behavioral category, but prey taxon did. Moreover, although spiders used a similar strategy for capturing prey, they spent more time biting carabid larvae than other prey. Our results suggest that, at least in our study area, prey that are dangerous or the predator's size do not seem to affect Paratropis sp. acceptance per se, but can cause the predator to change the time budget allocated to each behavior.
Original languageEnglish
Article number125863
Pages (from-to)1-7
Number of pages7
Early online date2 Nov 2020
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Foraging
  • flexibility
  • plasticity
  • defensive behavior
  • Arachnida
  • Araneae


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