Although the existence of different personality traits within and between animal populations has been relatively well established, the ecological implications of this variation remain neglected. In this study we tested whether differences in the boldness of pairs of three-spined sticklebacks led to differential predation risk in their prey, Chironomidae larvae. Bolder pairs, those that left a refuge and crossed the tank mid-line sooner, ate a greater proportion of prey in 10 min than less bold fish (therefore prey were at a greater per capita risk). Fish crossed the mid-line more rapidly when a larger number of prey were presented, suggesting they accepted greater risk in return for a larger foraging reward. Perception of predation risk also affected the differences between fish in boldness, as larger fish crossed the mid-line sooner after leaving the refuge (larger fish are less at risk from predation). Hence, an interesting trophic interaction occurs, where the risk experienced by the chironomid larvae is determined by the risk perceived by their predators. Through the variation generated by boldness, a form of behaviourally mediated trophic cascade can occur within (as well as between) communities.
Oecologia – Springer Journals
Published: May 15, 2008
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