Factors that can affect the spatial positioning of large and small individuals in clusters of sit-and-wait predators

Inon Scharf*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Shadow competition, the interception of prey by sit-and-wait predators closest to the source of prey arrival, is prevalent in clusters of sit-and-wait predators. Peripheral positions in the cluster receive more prey and should thus be more frequently occupied. Models predicting spatial positioning in groups, however, usually ignore variability among group members. Here, I used a simulation model to determine conditions under which small and large sit-and-wait predators, which differ in their attack range, should differ in their spatial positions in the cluster. Small predators occupied peripheral positions more frequently than large predators at the simulation beginning, while the opposite held true as time advanced. Because of the large and small attack range of large and small predators, respectively, small predators mistakenly relocated away from peripheral positions, while large predators did not relocate fast enough from inferior central positions. Any factor that moderated the frequent relocations of small predators or had the opposite effect on large predators assisted small or large predators, respectively, in reaching the more profitable peripheral positions. Furthermore, any factor elevating shadow competition led to longer occupation of the periphery by large predators. This model may explain why sit-and-wait predators are not homogenously distributed in space according to size.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)649-663
Number of pages15
JournalAmerican Naturalist
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2020


  • Grouping
  • Individual-based model
  • Predator-prey interactions
  • Ricochet effect
  • Shadow competition
  • Trap-building predators


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