Data from: Behavioural responses vary with prey species in the social spider, Stegodyphus sarasinorum
Parthasarathy, Bharat; Somanathan, Hema (2019), Data from: Behavioural responses vary with prey species in the social spider, Stegodyphus sarasinorum, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.r39mq1q
Predators living in social groups often show consistent inter-individual differences in prey capture behaviour that may be linked to personality. Though personality predisposes individuals for certain behaviours, responses can also be influenced by context. Studies examining personality-dependent participation in prey capture have largely employed only one prey species, offering the predator no choice. In nature, predators encounter a range of prey species, therefore participation in or leading a prey capture event must also depend on prey attributes (for example, size and risk). In the social spider Stegodyphus sarasinorum, collective prey capture is mediated by personality types as a consequence of which some individuals are consistently more likely to attack. Here, we examined if an individual’s consistency to attack persisted within and between the two prey species (honeybees and grasshoppers), and if the same individuals attacked first with both prey species. Our results showed that inter-individual differences in attacking persisted within- and between the two prey species. Spiders showed greater participation in attacking grasshoppers relative to bees. Identities of first attackers were not the same for bees and grasshoppers. Spiders showed greater consistency over time in attacking bees relative to grasshoppers. Bees attracted fewer attackers than size-matched grasshoppers. These results suggest that greater task specialization may be necessary to successfully subdue bees. Spiders handled bees more cautiously, which is likely to explain the observed plasticity in attacking the two prey species. Thus, participation in prey capture in social spiders is influenced by the attributes of prey species.