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Desperate Prawns: Drivers of Behavioural Innovation Vary across Social Contexts in Rock Pool Crustaceans.

08:00 EDT 21st October 2015 | BioPortfolio

Summary of "Desperate Prawns: Drivers of Behavioural Innovation Vary across Social Contexts in Rock Pool Crustaceans."

Innovative behaviour may allow animals to cope with changes in their environment. Innovative propensities are known to vary widely both between and within species, and a growing body of research has begun to examine the factors that drive individuals to innovate. Evidence suggests that individuals are commonly driven to innovate by necessity; for instance by hunger or because they are physically unable to outcompete others for access to resources. However, it is not known whether the factors that drive individuals to innovate are stable across contexts. We examined contextual variation in the drivers of innovation in rock pool prawns (Palaemon spp), invertebrates that face widely fluctuating environments and may, through the actions of tides and waves, find themselves isolated or in groups. Using two novel foraging tasks, we examined the effects of body size and hunger in prawns tested in solitary and group contexts. When tested alone, small prawns were significantly more likely to succeed in a spatial task, and faster to reach the food in a manipulation task, while hunger state had no effect. In contrast, size had no effect when prawns were tested in groups, but food-deprived individuals were disproportionately likely to innovate in both tasks. We suggest that contextual variation in the drivers of innovation is likely to be common in animals living in variable environments, and may best be understood by considering variation in the perception of relative risks and rewards under different conditions.

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This article was published in the following journal.

Name: PloS one
ISSN: 1932-6203
Pages: e0139050

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