Habitat selection in a deceptive predator: maximizing resource availability and signal efficacy

J. C. O'Hanlon*, M. E. Herberstein, G. I. Holwell

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    10 Citations (Scopus)


    Many animals deceive prey by presenting a deceptive signal that lures prey into close proximity. These predators are predicted to select habitats that maximize the efficacy of their deceptive signal and offer high levels of prey traffic. The orchid mantis Hymenopus coronatus preys upon pollinators that are deceived by the predator's resemblance to a flower. Habitat patches that contain flowers can offer orchid mantises high levels of insect activity, yet may be detrimental to the success of their deceptive signaling strategy. Currently 2 exclusive hypotheses-previously applied to deceptive flowers-predict the interaction between signaling efficacy under different flower densities. Increased competition for pollinators from nearby flowers suggests that orchid mantis signals should be more effective when in isolation from flowers (remote habitats hypothesis). Alternatively, orchid mantises may benefit from increased insect activity when near flowers (magnet species hypothesis). We found that orchid mantises had no preference for inhabiting flowers over leafy vegetation. They were also no more effective in attracting prey when sitting upon flowers compared to when in isolation from flowers. However, field experiments revealed that the density of flowers in their immediate vicinity did have an effect on orchid mantis attractiveness. Mantises were visited by more flying insects when in patches of high flower density, suggesting that they benefit from the magnet species effect. Co-occurring flowers do not negatively impact the efficacy of the orchid mantis' deceptive signal and areas with high densities of flowers may allow them access to high levels of prey availability.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)194-199
    Number of pages6
    JournalBehavioral Ecology
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015


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