Data from: Food supplementation and predation risk in harsh climate: interactive effects on abundance and body condition of tit species
Morosinotto, Chiara; Villers, Alexandre; Varjonen, Rauno; Korpimäki, Erkki (2016), Data from: Food supplementation and predation risk in harsh climate: interactive effects on abundance and body condition of tit species, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.q0qq3
Food availability and predation risk can have drastic impacts on animal behaviour and populations. The tradeoff between foraging and predator avoidance is crucial for animal survival and will strongly affect individual body mass, since large fat reserves are beneficial to reduce starvation but may increase predation risk. However, two-factor experiments simultaneously investigating the interactive effects of food and predation risk, are still rare. We studied the effects of food supplementation and natural predation risk imposed by pygmy owls Glaucidium passerinum on the abundance and fat reserves of tit species in boreal forests of north Europe, from January to March in 2012 and in 2013. Food supplementation increased the number of individuals present in a given forest patch, whereas the level of predation risk had no clear impact on the abundance of tit species. The stronger impact of food supply respect to predation risk could be the consequence of the harsh winter conditions in north Europe, with constant below-zero temperatures and only few (5-7 h) daylight hours available for foraging. Predation risk did not have obvious effects on tit abundance but influenced food consumption and, together with food supplementation, affected the deposition of subcutaneous fat in great tits Parus major. High owl predation risk had detrimental effects on body fat reserves, which may reduce over-winter survival, but the costs imposed by pygmy owl risk were compensated when food was supplemented. The starvation–predation tradeoff faced by great tits in winter may thus be mediated through variation in body fat reserves. In small species living in harsh environment, this tradeoff appeared thus to be biased towards avoidance of starvation, at the cost of increasing predation risk.