Date of this Version
DeLong JP, Uiterwaal SF and Dell AI (2021) Trait-Based Variation in the Foraging Performance of Individuals. Front. Ecol. Evol. 9:649542. doi: 10.3389/fevo.2021.649542
Although average, species-level interaction strength plays a key role in driving population dynamics and community structure, predator-prey interactions occur among individuals. As a result, individual variation in foraging rates may play an important role in determining the effects of predator-prey interactions on communities. Such variation in foraging rates stems from individual variation in traits that influence the mechanistic components of the functional response, such as movements that determine encounters and behaviors such as decisions to attack. However, we still have little information about individual-level variation in functional responses or the traits that give rise to such variation. Here we combine a standard functional response experiment with wolf spiders foraging on fruit flies with a novel analysis to connect individual morphology, physiology, and movement to individual foraging performance. We found substantial variation in traits between males and females, but these were not clearly linked to the differences in the functional response between males and females. Contrary to expectations, we found no effect of body velocity, leg length, energetic state, or metabolic rate on foraging performance. Instead, we found that body mass interacted with body rotations (clockwise turns), such that larger spiders showed higher foraging performance when they turned more but the reverse was true for smaller spiders. Our results highlight the need to understand the apparent complexity of the links between the traits of individuals and the functional response.