Freezing or death feigning? Beetles selected for long death feigning showed different tactics against different predators

Masaya Asakura, Kentarou Matsumura, Ryo Ishihara, Takahisa Miyatake

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Prey evolve antipredator strategies against multiple enemies in nature. We examined how a prey species adopts different predation avoidance tactics against pursuit or sit-and-wait predators. As prey, we used three strains of Tribolium beetles artificially selected for short (short strain) or long (long strain) duration of death feigning, and a stock culture (base population). Death feigning is known to be effective for evading a jumping spider in the case of the long strains, while the present study showed that the long-strain beetles used freezing against a sit-and-wait type predator, Amphibolus venator, in this study. The short- strain beetles were more easily oriented toward predators. The time to predation was also shorter in the short strains compared to the long strains. The results showed that, as prey, the short strains displayed the same behavior, escaping, against both types of predators. Traditionally, death feigning has been thought to be the last resort in a series of antipredator avoidance behaviors. However, our results showed that freezing and death feigning were not parts of a series of behaviors, but independent strategies against different predators, at least for long-strain beetles. We also examined the relationship between a predator's starvation level and its predatory behavior. In addition, the orientation behavior toward and predation rate on the prey were observed to determine how often the predatory insect attacked the beetles.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere8533
JournalEcology and Evolution
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2022


  • animal hypnosis
  • death feigning
  • freezing
  • predation
  • thanatosis
  • tonic immobility

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


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