Special Issue "The Behavioral Ecology of Venom"
A special issue of Toxins (ISSN 2072-6651).
Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 October 2021.
Interests: predator-prey relationships; behavioral ecology of toxins; coevolution; interspecific communication; aposematism; aversive conditioning; mimicry; risk assessment between venomous arthropods and and their enemies; conservation biology; science pedagogy
Interests: Predator-prey relationships, coevolution, interspecific communication, aposematism, aversive conditioning, mimicry, and risk assessment of venomous arthropods and grasshopper mice; conservation biology; science pedagogy
The theme of this Special Issue is the behavioral ecology of all things that relate to venomous animals, which, by definition, are critters that inject their toxins by biting or stinging another organism.
Biting and stinging are behaviors, of course, and there is a growing literature detailing how and when venomous animals deliver their toxins, in both predatory and defensive contexts. Because venom production has both energetic and ecological costs, it is not surprising that venomous animals as different as scorpions and snakes meter their venom when attempting to deter a predator, injecting more of the precious slurry, or a more potent and expensive version thereof, when predatory risk is higher. These taxa and other groups also meter their venom offensively by injecting less venom, or none, when a prey item can easily be subdued. Venom can also be used for other functions, such as communication, reproduction, intraspecific and interspecific competition, and antimicrobial immunity. Bees spray their venom to alert others of a threat to the hive; male scorpions sting their mates during courtship; anemones sting their neighbors as they jostle for space; and ants spray venom on their nest and eggs to inhibit microbes.
Some animals acquire their toxins from others, either through their diet, or more perversely, via theft. Other animals, such as ants and social spiders, even use their venom cooperatively to procure larger meals than they could acquire individually. We welcome submissions, either reviews or original research, that add to our understanding of the behavior and ecology of venomous organisms themselves.
However, we want this Special Issue to be richer, more diverse, and thus more engaging than solely focusing on the behavior of venom producers. The prey of venomous organisms also behave so as not to be envenomated. Colonial ground squirrels, for example, adjust their mobbing behavior based on the rattling sounds of a rattlesnake enemy, responding more cautiously to the rattling from a larger, warmer, and more dangerous snake. Likewise, predators of venomous organisms also behave! When feeding on venomous scorpions, whiptail lizards repeatedly bite, shake, and throw a scorpion but simply bite and eat a non-venomous cricket. Thus, we encourage contributions exploring the behavior of any and all potential victims of envenomation, be they predators or prey.
But wait! We’re not done yet. There is yet another player in this community of critters interacting with a venomous member. These are the imitators, the mimics who benefit from their resemblance to a venomous organism, be they harmless hoverfly mimics of painful bumblebees, or benign milk snakes whose banding patterns of red, yellow, and black can easily be confused with the similar markings of potentially deadly coral snakes. While the behavior of such imposters themselves can be used to enhance their mimicry, as in the head flattening of gopher snakes when imitating rattlesnakes, it is the behavior of the predators, the dupes, that makes such mimicry possible. Behavior, thus, is integral to understanding mimicry complexes, and submissions on this topic would be welcomed.
Lastly, we would enjoy contributions from researchers studying animals that are frequently overlooked as being venomous, such as the hematophagous animals, the vampires. By most definitions, vampire bats, mosquitoes, biting flies, ticks, and assassin bugs are venomous, and they can have dramatic impacts on the evolution, ecology, and yes, even the behavior of their hosts. Original research or thoughtful reviews dealing with the behavioral ecology of any of these vampires or their targets would also be valued.
We look forward to a diverse and engaging volume dealing broadly with the behavioral ecology of venom!
With warm regards,
Prof. Dr. William K. Hayes
Prof. Dr. Matthew P. Rowe
Manuscript Submission Information
Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.
Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Toxins is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.
Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.
- Venom metering
- Risk assessment
- Bites and stings
- Predatory and defensive