Encounters with enemies uncover personality in ground beetles — ASN Events

Encounters with enemies uncover personality in ground beetles (#882)

Zhanna Reznikova 1 , Ivan Iakovlev 1
  1. Institute of systematics and ecology of animals, Novosibirsk, Russia

Our knowledge about behavioural syndrome (personality) in insects is restricted mainly to social insects (review in: Jandt et al.), and among solitary species the field cricket serves as the basic model (Kortet, Hedrick, 2007; Niemelä et al., 2012). Recently some data have appeared about personalities in several species of beetles (Krams et al., 2013; Lovlie et al., 2014). Carabid beetles enjoy flexible and diverse behavioural repertoire, and encounters with their “dear enemies”, that is, red wood ants, provide a good possibility to observe displays of their defensive and aggressive behaviours in laboratory experiments (Reznikova, Dorosheva, 2013). In order to reveal correlations between different sets of behaviours we put 57 females of Pterostichus magus through a battery of tests that simulated natural situations: an open field test with a shelter; competition for a food item with a conspecific; encounters with enemies (three workers of red wood ants); foraging in the presence or absence of enemies. Results of 263 five-minute tests indicated that the level and some particularities of exploratory activity in ground beetles correlate with their strategies of defensive behaviour towards enemies. Beetles that did not hide in a shelter and displayed the high level of exploratory activity in the open field test preferred using active defensive tactics in the test with ants such as excretion of chemical secretions and/or aggressive attacks sometimes ended by killing ants. Individuals that have frequently hidden in the shelter preferred using passive defensive tactics towards ants: increasing locomotion, freezing, trying to shake the ants off by legs. Individual exploratory activity correlates with interspecies aggression but not with intraspecies competition. We suggest that personality in P. magus displays as aggression–boldness behavioural syndrome. Supported by the Russian Scientific Fund (14-14-00603)