thumbnail

Linking anti-predator behaviour to prey demography reveals limited risk effects of an actively hunting large carnivore

Ecology Letters

By:
, , , , , , , ,
DOI: 10.1111/ele.12133

Links

Abstract

Ecological theory predicts that the diffuse risk cues generated by wide-ranging, active predators should induce prey behavioural responses but not major, population- or community-level consequences. We evaluated the non-consumptive effects (NCEs) of an active predator, the grey wolf (Canis lupus), by simultaneously tracking wolves and the behaviour, body fat, and pregnancy of elk (Cervus elaphus), their primary prey in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. When wolves approached within 1 km, elk increased their rates of movement, displacement and vigilance. Even in high-risk areas, however, these encounters occurred only once every 9 days. Ultimately, despite 20-fold variation in the frequency of encounters between wolves and individual elk, the risk of predation was not associated with elk body fat or pregnancy. Our findings suggest that the ecological consequences of actively hunting large carnivores, such as the wolf, are more likely transmitted by consumptive effects on prey survival than NCEs on prey behaviour.

Geospatial Extents

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Article
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Title:
Linking anti-predator behaviour to prey demography reveals limited risk effects of an actively hunting large carnivore
Series title:
Ecology Letters
DOI:
10.1111/ele.12133
Volume
16
Issue:
8
Year Published:
2013
Language:
English
Publisher:
Wiley
Contributing office(s):
Wyoming Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit
Description:
8 p.
Larger Work Type:
Article
Larger Work Subtype:
Journal Article
Larger Work Title:
Ecology Letters
First page:
1023
Last page:
1030
Country:
United States
State:
Montana;Wyoming;Idaho
Other Geospatial:
Yellowstone