Cool headed individuals are better survivors: Non-consumptive and consumptive effects of a generalist predator on a sap feeding insect

Orsolya Beleznai, Gergely Tholt, Zoltán Tóth, Vivien Horváth, Zsolt Marczali, Ferenc Samu

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Non-consumptive effects (NCEs) of predators are part of the complex interactions among insect natural enemies and prey. NCEs have been shown to significantly affect prey foraging and feeding. Leafhopper's (Auchenorrhyncha) lengthy phloem feeding bouts may play a role in pathogen transmission in vector species and also exposes them to predation risk. However, NCEs on leafhoppers have been scarcely studied, and we lack basic information about how anti-predator behaviour influences foraging and feeding in these species. Here we report a study on non-consumptive and consumptive predator-prey interactions in a naturally co-occurring spider-leafhopper system. In mesocosm arenas we studied movement patterns during foraging and feeding of the leafhopper Psammotettix alienus in the presence of the spider predator Tibellus oblongus. Leafhoppers delayed feeding and fed much less often when the spider was present. Foraging movement pattern changed under predation risk: movements became more frequent and brief. There was considerable individual variation in foraging movement activity. Those individuals that increased movement activity in the presence of predators exposed themselves to higher predation risk. However, surviving individuals exhibited a 'cool headed' reaction to spider presence by moving less than leafhoppers in control trials. No leafhoppers were preyed upon while feeding. We consider delayed feeding as a "paradoxical" antipredator tactic, since it is not necessarily an optimal strategy against a sit-and-wait generalist predator.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0135954
JournalPloS one
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 21 2015


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General

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