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Data from: Determinants of predation success: how to survive an attack from a rattlesnake


Whitford, Malachi D.; Freymiller, Grace A.; Higham, Timothy E.; Clark, Rulon W. (2019), Data from: Determinants of predation success: how to survive an attack from a rattlesnake, Dryad, Dataset,


1. The selection pressures that arise from capturing prey and avoiding predators are some of the strongest biotic forces shaping animal form and function. Examining how performance (i.e., athletic ability) affects the outcomes of encounters between free-ranging predators and prey is essential for understanding the factors that determine predation success rates and broad scale predator–prey dynamics, but quantifying these encounters in natural situations is logistically challenging. 2. The goal of our study was to examine the relationship between performance and predation success by studying natural predator-prey interactions in the field with minimal manipulation of the study subjects. 3. We used high-speed video recordings of free-ranging sidewinder rattlesnakes (predator, Crotalus cerastes) and desert kangaroo rats (prey, Dipodomys deserti) to study how performance at various stages of their encounters alters the outcome of their interactions. 4. We found that predation success depends on 1) whether the snake struck accurately, 2) if the strike was accurate, the reaction time of the kangaroo rat, and 3) if the kangaroo rat was bitten, the speed with which kangaroo rat dislodged the snake (i.e., the duration of fang contact). 5. The results of our study suggest that the role of performance in predator-prey interactions is complex, and both predator and prey can alter the outcome at multiple stages of an interaction.

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