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The Revenge of the Acari

DANIEL BUENOPrey one day, hunter the next. This saying seems to apply to the role reversal that sometimes occurs in nature. Juvenile acari of the Iphiseius degenerans species that survive attacks by adults from another species of arthropod, the Neoseiulus cucumeris, hunt their nemeses’ young when they grow up. Formerly prey, they become excellent predators of the juvenile members of the species that once hunted them (Nature Scientific Reports, October 11, 2012). Apparently, the surviving acari of the species I. degenerans remember the identity of their former rivals, with whom they share a habitat, and even when food is available prefer to hunt the young of their competitors. The conclusion is from a study conducted by Dutch researchers at the University of Amsterdam and by Maira Ignacio of the Federal University of Tocantins (UFT). “The prey recognizes the species of predator to which it was exposed during its juvenile stage. Our results suggest that this experience during youth affects adult behavior, and roles are reversed (between species),” the scientists say.