Slow growth improves compensation ability: Examining growth rate and starvation endurance in pit-building antlions from semi-arid and hyper-arid regions

Ron Rotkopf*, Yehonatan Alcalay, Einav Bar-Hanin, Erez David Barkae, Ofer Ovadia

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Different environments are expected to exert differential selective pressures, often generating distinct sets of traits in organisms inhabiting different geographic regions. Starvation endurance is an important trait for organisms in harsh (i.e., extreme climate and/or biotically poor) and unpredictable environments. This is especially true for sit-and-wait predators, such as antlions, which experience stronger fluctuations in prey arrivals than do actively searching predators. We conducted an experimental comparison of starvation endurance in pit-building antlions, originating from semi-arid and hyper-arid environments. We hypothesized that individuals from the climatically harsher and biotically poor environment (i.e., hyper-arid) should be better adapted to endure long starvation periods. Additionally, we posited that faster-growing individuals are expected to be more sensitive to starvation because of their need to sustain higher metabolic rates. We found that antlions originating from the semi-arid region maintained higher activity levels, which led to slightly higher mass loss rates during starvation, but enabled faster recovery when food supply was renewed. Conversely, antlions originating from the hyper-arid region had lower activity levels, consistent with their lower rate of mass loss during starvation, but this came at the expense of decreased response to prey and lower growth rate when food became available again. Each strategy holds its advantages for coping with long starvation periods, and we cannot say decisively which strategy is better. Results from both regions were consistent with the predictions of the growth compensation phenomenon: antlions that were fed less frequently pre-starvation grew at faster rates when food supply was renewed. Our study demonstrates that individuals originating from different environments adopt different strategies in order to endure starvation, exemplifying antlions' ability to compensate for mass lost during starvation.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1129-1144
Number of pages16
JournalEvolutionary Ecology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Clinal variation
  • Growth compensation
  • Life-history
  • Local adaptation
  • Myrmeleontidae
  • Trade-off


Dive into the research topics of 'Slow growth improves compensation ability: Examining growth rate and starvation endurance in pit-building antlions from semi-arid and hyper-arid regions'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this