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Behavioural correlations across multiple stages of the antipredator response: do animals that escape sooner hide longer?

Citation

Ortiz-Jimenez, Chelsea et al. (2022), Behavioural correlations across multiple stages of the antipredator response: do animals that escape sooner hide longer?, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.25338/B88P8W

Abstract

A fundamental assumption in predator–prey ecology is that prey responses comprise two main stages: escape when attack occurs or appears imminent and avoid the threat by seeking refuge until it has passed. While numerous studies have examined either initial prey responses to an approaching predator (flight initiation distance, FID), or subsequent hiding behaviour (e.g. latency to resume activity), to our knowledge, no previous studies have repeatedly tested multiple individuals in nature to quantify whether initial escape tendencies, behaviour during the escape and latency to resume activity are repeatable, and whether these stages of the antipredator response are correlated. The goal of this study was to explore how consistent spatial differences in rates of human activity shape risk-sensitive behaviour throughout multiple steps of the antipredator response (to humans) in California ground squirrels, Otospermophilus beecheyi, tested in various group sizes and environmental contexts across time. Our study provides the first example showing that, as predicted: FIDs, latencies to resume activity and other post-FID aspects of prey responses were repeatable and positively correlated at the among-individual level. This correlation is ecologically important in that it provides an underlying mechanism for a trade-off involving not only the cost versus benefit of early versus late escape, or early versus late emergence from refuge, but for a trade-off based on variation in fearfulness expressed across stages. Furthermore, we found that human activity influenced some, but not all, stages of the antipredator response.