Individual specialization within populations is increasingly recognized as important in both ecology and evolution, but researchers working on intraspecific variation in behavior and diet infrequently interact. This may be because individual specialization on diet and behavior was historically difficult to investigate simultaneously on the same individuals. However, approaches like stable isotope analysis that allow hindcasting past field diets for laboratory organisms may provide opportunities to unite these areas of inquiry. Here, we tested the role of intraspecific competition on individual specialization through analysis of both behavior and diet simultaneously. We focused on intraspecific competition as a mechanism that might drive individual specialization of both diet and behavior. We conducted this study in Vilas County, Wisconsin, United States (US), using rusty crayfish Faxonius rusticus from six lakes across a relative abundance gradient. We conducted six assays to measure individual specialization of behavior and used stable isotope analysis to measure individual specialization of diet. We then related both measures of individual specialization to relative abundance of F. rusticus using linear and quadratic models. We found a unimodal relationship between intraspecific competition and individual specialization of diet for F. rusticus, likely because some preferred resources are unavailable to specialize on at the highest densities of this well-studied crayfish invader. Conversely, we found greater support for a linear relationship between individual specialization of behavior and intraspecific competition, perhaps because specialization by behavior is not inherently resource-limited. Our results show that dietary and behavioral specialization may exhibit different responses to increased intraspecific competition, and demonstrate a potential technique that can be used to investigate individual specialization of diet and behavior simultaneously for the same individuals and populations.
- Faxonius rusticus
- invasive species
- stable isotopes
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Nature and Landscape Conservation