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Keywords:

  • Lycosidae;
  • optimal foraging theory;
  • overeating;
  • performance trait;
  • selection gradient

Abstract

Animals vary greatly in their tendency to consume large meals. Yet, whether or how meal size influences fitness in wild populations is infrequently considered. Using a predator exclusion, mark–recapture experiment, we estimated selection on the amount of food accepted during an ad libitum feeding bout (hereafter termed ‘satiation threshold’) in the wolf spider Schizocosa ocreata. Individually marked, size-matched females of known satiation threshold were assigned to predator exclusion and predator inclusion treatments and tracked for a 40-day period. We also estimated the narrow-sense heritability of satiation threshold using dam-on-female-offspring regression. In the absence of predation, high satiation threshold was positively associated with larger and faster egg case production. However, these selective advantages were lost when predators were present. We estimated the heritability of satiation threshold to be 0.56. Taken together, our results suggest that satiation threshold can respond to selection and begets a life history trade-off in this system: high satiation threshold individuals tend to produce larger egg cases but also suffer increased susceptibility to predation.