In trophic interactions, predator effects on prey populations through consumption are often exceeded by non-consumptive effects that predators elicit on prey behaviour. Spiders can elicit strong antipredator behaviour in both insects and other spiders. However, antipredator behaviour has only been investigated in a limited number of insect and spider species. We investigate the occurrence and strength of antipredator behaviour across spider and insect species that cover a wide taxonomic range.
Roman Bucher will investigate to what extent non-consumptive effects cascade down to lower trophic levels. Therefore series of lab and field experiments will be conducted to quantify plant choice and herbivory in relation to predation risk. Furthermore, we are interested in fitness consequences of antipredator behaviour on prey individuals. Measured antipredator behaviour will include both small-scale movement and the propensity for long-distance dispersal.
Mechanisms of detecting predation risk
Hellena Binz uses bioassays and analytical methods to investigate how the presence of spider predators is detected by prey species. We are testing if predation risk is detected via tactile senses, olfaction and/or contact chemoreception. Finally, the substances involved in risk detection are being identified using gas chromatography and mass spectrometry.