Title
Food acquisition and predator avoidance in a Neotropical rodent Food acquisition and predator avoidance in a Neotropical rodent
Author
Faculty/Department
Faculty of Sciences. Biology
Publication type
article
Publication
London ,
Subject
Psychology
Biology
Source (journal)
Animal behaviour. - London
Volume/pages
88(2014) , p. 41-48
ISSN
0003-3472
ISI
000331134500006
Carrier
E
Target language
English (eng)
Full text (Publishers DOI)
Affiliation
University of Antwerp
Abstract
Foraging activity in animals reflects a compromise between acquiring food and avoiding predation. The risk allocation hypothesis predicts that prey animals optimize this balance by concentrating their foraging activity at times of relatively low predation risk, as much as their energy status permits, but empirical evidence is scarce. We used a unique combination of automated telemetry, manual radiotelemetry and camera trapping to test whether activity at high risk times declined with food availability as predicted in a Neotropical forest rodent, the Central American agouti, Dasyprocta punctata. We found that the relative risk of predation by the main predator, the ocelot, Leopardus pardalis, estimated as the ratio of ocelot to agouti activity on camera trap photographs, was up to four orders of magnitude higher between sunset and sunrise than during the rest of the day. Kills of radiotracked agoutis by ocelots during this high-risk period far exceeded expectations given agouti activity. Both telemetric monitoring of radio-tagged agoutis and camera monitoring of burrow entrances indicated that agoutis exited their burrows later at dawn, entered their burrows earlier at dusk and had lower overall activity levels when they lived in areas with higher food abundance. Thus, agoutis avoided activity during the high-risk period more strongly when access to food was higher. Our study provides quantitative empirical evidence of prey animals concentrating their activity at times of relatively low predation risk. (C) 2013 The Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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