Personality and predation in a changing world
Blake, Chelsea A.
The interaction between predators and prey is one of the driving forces that shape not only animal behavior, but also the evolution and ecology of organisms. However, predator-prey interactions are now taking place in an unprecedented and rapidly changing world, as humans introduce new species and alter habitat conditions. Thus examining the anthropogenic introduction of novel predators is key to the contemporary study of behavioral ecology. Further, not all individual animals behave the same way within the same species or population, thus it is important to also assess behavior at the level of the individual. Individual behavioral types, or "personalities" of animals can have far-reaching implications for their ecology. Here I have explored predator-prey interactions in the context of changing environments from the perspective of individual-level variation to provide novel insights into species interactions. I have found that the personality of prey can affect how they fare with predators, but that the effect depends on which predator species they face. Additionally, I have shown that although behavioral type is important in predator interactions, it does not affect whether prey are able to recognize a novel predator. I have also explored how physical antipredator characteristics of individuals might relate to their behavioral type. I have found that although physical traits are not necessarily inherently correlated with behavioral traits, altering the physical condition of an individual can affect their behavioral traits. Ultimately, my work contributes to the understanding of how prey personality could interact with introduced predators to either aid or hinder the survival of native species.
Antipredator behavior, Behavioral syndromes, Boldness, Introduced predators, Invasive species, Antipredator morphology, Condition-dependent behavior, Gambusia sp.
Blake, C. A. (2016). <i>Personality and predation in a changing world</i> (Unpublished dissertation). Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas.