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Predator traits shape anti-predator response


Prey animals perform a diverse variety of behaviours to escape from predators, but whether specific behaviours are used to escape from predators that represent different types of threat has been long-debated. New research from the University of Minnesota College of Biological Sciences shows that predators’ hunting techniques and the relative degree of danger they pose are key factors dictating anti-predator response.

The research, published recently in PLOS ONE, examined how the anti-predator behaviour of three common African herbivore species is shaped by predator traits. To do this, researchers conducted hundreds of “encounters” between wild herbivores and life-sized models of large predators that differ in these key functional traits. This experimental approach enabled researchers to tease apart the contributing factors of predator species identity, hunting technique (ambush or pursuit), and the relative risk each species posed to the focal prey animals (based on relative density, prey preference, and capture success rates) to overall anti-predator response. Findings from this study can be used to build a framework for predicting the type and intensity of prey response to predators. MORE

Header image: University of Minnesota.