Jul 27, 2001

Nonlinearity in the predation risk of prey mobility

Proceedings. Biological Sciences
Peter B BanksErkki Korpimäki


Odorous waste products such as urine and faeces are unavoidable for most animals and are widely exploited by predators and their prey. Consequently, waste accumulations can be risky and prey which increase their mobility in order to disperse and dilute their waste should avoid a high predation risk until this benefit is balanced by the increasing risks of random predator encounter. This hypothesis was tested for voles (Microtus spp.) in Finland which are vulnerable to predation due to the scent and ultraviolet attractiveness of their urine. The mortality and mobility of radio-collared voles showed a U-shaped relationship, regardless of vole sex, species or population cycle phase. The low risks for prey making intermediate movements suggest that predation risk can exert strong selective pressures on prey such that they have little respite from the risk of being killed.

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