Behavioral repeatability and personality in pit-building antlion larvae under differing environmental contexts

Yehonatan Alcalay*, Ofer Ovadia, Inon Scharf

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Over the last decades, there has been growing interest among behavioral ecologists in exploring animal personalities. However, while the foraging behavior of active foragers has been extensively studied, only little is known about that of sit-and-wait predators within the personality framework. We investigated the existence of repeatability and personality in pit-building antlion larvae in the context of foraging (pit construction) and habitat selection (relocation distance and direction) over time and under three environmental contexts: thermal conditions, sand depth, and soil type. Over time, repeatability was much stronger for relocation distance than for movement directionality. Additionally, we observed positive correlations across the two levels of sand depth and soil type but not between thermal conditions. Change in substrate type may induce faster decision-making in these sand-dwelling insects or could be perceived by such insects as a more drastic alteration in their habitat. We suggest that different individuals indeed possess distinct personalities. We also suggest that repeatability should be measured at two levels: the amount of energy expenditure (distances and pit construction) and the pattern of energy expenditure (directionality). Finally, our study illustrates how differing environmental conditions can result in differing levels of plasticity, while largely preserving individual personalities.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1985-1993
Number of pages9
JournalBehavioral Ecology and Sociobiology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2014
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.


  • Animal personality
  • Behavioral syndromes
  • Repeatability
  • Thermal ecology
  • Trap-building predators


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