Foraging decisions and behavioural flexibility in trap-building predators: A review

Inon Scharf, Yael Lubin, Ofer Ovadia

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

137 Scopus citations


Foraging theory was first developed to predict the behaviour of widely-foraging animals that actively search for prey. Although the behaviour of sit-and-wait predators often follows predictions derived from foraging theory, the similarity between these two distinct groups of predators is not always obvious. In this review, we compare foraging activities of trap-building predators (mainly pit-building antlions and web-building spiders), a specific group of sit-and-wait predators that construct traps as a foraging device, with those of widely-foraging predators. We refer to modifications of the trap characteristics as analogous to changes in foraging intensity. Our review illustrates that the responses of trap-building and widely-foraging predators to different internal and external factors, such as hunger level, conspecific density and predation threat are quite similar, calling for additional studies of foraging theory using trap-building predators. In each chapter of this review, we summarize the response of trap-building predators to a different factor, while contrasting it with the equivalent response characterizing widely-foraging predators. We provide here evidence that the behaviour of trap-building predators is not stereotypic or fixed as was once commonly accepted, rather it can vary greatly, depending on the individual's internal state and its interactions with external environmental factors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)626-639
Number of pages14
JournalBiological Reviews
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2011


  • Antlions
  • Optimal foraging
  • Searching behaviour
  • Sit-and-wait predators
  • Spiders
  • Starvation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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