Role of venom quantity in the feeding behavior of Jaguajir rochae (Scorpiones: Buthidae)
Animal venom is composed of a complex mixture of protein-rich chemicals. Synthesis of animal venom incurs a high metabolic cost and is a prolonged process; consequently, animals use their venom cautiously and economically. Some studies have shown that venomous animals modulate the amount and/or type of venom used depending on certain factors, such as prey size or the intensity of predation threat. Here, we investigated how the quantity of venom that is available for use by the scorpion Jaguajir rochae interferes with its choice of prey. We used two types of prey of contrasting size (small 200–300-mg and large 600–700-mg cockroaches). The results showed that the amount of venom influences the feeding behavior of this species. Most scorpions without venom exhibited a low interest when large prey was present, but frequently attacked small prey. The scorpions also showed a distinct pattern in the time between venom extraction and the initiation of hunting behavior. In conclusion, J. rochae is able to perceive differences between small and large prey and make decisions regarding venom usage, supporting the “venom optimization hypothesis” (or “venom metering hypothesis”), by minimizing the venom use due to it being an energetically expensive resource.
KeywordsBehavioral plasticity Venom optimization hypothesis Predatory behavior Caatinga Semi-arid
We thank the Fundação de Amparo a Ciências e Tecnologia de Pernambuco (FACEPE) for granting a scholarship to M.A. Silva. We also thank Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior (CAPES) for granting a Ph.D. scholarship to A.F.A. Lira.
Compliance with ethical standards
Experiments using invertebrate animals conducted in Brazil do not require approval by Ethics Committees, as established by the Brazilian Council for the Control of Animal Experimentation (CONCEA) (Law 11.794/08, § 3).
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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