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A predator’s response to a prey’s deterrent signal changes with experience

Aguilar-Argüello, S., Díaz-Castelazo, C., Rao, D.
Behavioural processes 2018 v.151 pp. 81-88
Salticidae, Tephritidae, learning, predator-prey relationships, predators, prey species
Prey signalling to predators is an attempt to divert or nullify an attack even before it occurs. If these signals are backed up by a potent defence, then the likelihood of the predators learning to avoid them is high. In species that use deceptive signalling, predators could learn to overcome such a display and diminish the efficacy of the display. We studied the effect of experience on the efficacy of tephritid fly displays against jumping spiders. We compared attacks on displaying flies, non-displaying flies, and two other prey species (a facile prey and a prey with a defence). Spiders were more likely to attack displaying flies over time. However, spiders that were familiar with the fly appearance but not display also increased their attack rates. We suggest that spiders attend to both components of the fly display, i.e. motion and appearance, but with motion cues taking priority.