Functional response models differ in which factors limit predation (e.g. searching efficiency, prey handling time, digestion) and whether predation behaviour is governed by an internal physiological state (e.g. satiation). There is now much evidence that satiation is a key factor in understanding changes in foraging behaviour, and that many predators are effectively digestion limited. Here, we ask if predation in a predatory arthropod can be explained from satiation-driven behaviour alone, or if behaviour is also influenced by the density of prey other than via the effect of prey ingestion on satiation. To address this question a satiation-based predation model is formulated, for which parameters are estimated on the basis of observations on digestion rate, satiation-related prey searching rate and prey capture behaviour, basically under high prey density conditions. The model predictions are subsequently tested against longer term predation experiments carried out at high and low prey densities. Since satiation can easily be linked with egg production, these tests are carried out both for predation and oviposition.
The predator–prey systems under study consist of females of two predatory mite species (Neoseiulus barkeri and N. cucumeris) and the larvae of two thrips species (Thrips tabaci and Frankliniella occidentalis) as their prey. For N. barkeri foraging on T. tabaci, the model gives good predictions at both high (4 larvae cm−1) and low (0.1–1 larvae cm−2) prey densities. For N. cucumeris foraging on F. occidentalis, the predictions hold at the high prey density, but are too low at low prey densities. Thus our analysis indicates that we cannot fully explain density-dependent predation rates from satiation-driven behaviour alone. Different mechanisms are suggested on how prey density may affect foraging efficiency other than via satiation.