Behavioral differences between pit-building antlions and wormlions suggest limits to convergent evolution

Krzysztof Miler, Inon Scharf

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Antlions and wormlions are distantly related insect taxa, both digging pits in loose soil and ambushing arthropod prey. Their hunting method, which is rare in the animal kingdom, is a clear example of convergent evolution. There is little research directly comparing the 2 pit-building taxa. Using the same experimental platform to investigate how they respond to biotic and abiotic environmental factors enables an examination of their convergence and its limits. We investigated the response of antlions and wormlions to 3 factors common in their daily life: disturbance to the pits, prey arrival, and conspecific competitors. Although both increased the pit size following disturbance, wormlions increased it faster than antlions. Antlions responded to prey faster than wormlions, but wormlions improved their response time over days. The most diverging response was toward conspecifics. Whereas antlions relocated their pits fast in response to increasing conspecific density, wormlions never relocated. We suggest explanations for the behavioral differences between the taxa. Our results imply that despite the similar hunting method of the 2 taxa they may differ greatly in their behavior, which in turn might have consequences for their habitat use and population dynamics.

Original languageEnglish
JournalIntegrative Zoology
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2022

Keywords

  • antlion
  • convergence
  • sit-and-wait predators
  • trap-building
  • wormlion

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