Skip to main content
Dryad logo

Ecology of fear and its effect on seed dispersal by a neotropical rodent by Dumas Gálvez and Marisol Hernández

Citation

Gálvez, Dumas; Hernández, Marisol (2022), Ecology of fear and its effect on seed dispersal by a neotropical rodent by Dumas Gálvez and Marisol Hernández, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.9p8cz8wj2

Abstract

Predators exert negative effects on prey, besides the act of killing, generating behavioral and physiological costs, a concept known as the ecology of fear. Studies in scatterhoarding rodents in temperate zones suggests that prey use habitat structure to perceive predation risk. Less is known about how tropical forest rodents perceive predation risk. Here, we investigated whether the Central American agouti perceive predation risk by ocelots through olfactory cues and whether it influences the foraging behavior for Attalea butyracea seeds, one of its main food sources. By monitoring tagged seeds, we found that seed dispersal and pilferage was lower in sites with high density of ocelots, in line with the predictions of ecology of fear proposing that scared animals eat less. We also found that pilferage rates in high ocelot density sites seem to be lower during the rainy - transition period but not during dry season when food availability is generally low. However, we did not find evidence that agoutis adjust their cache spacing behavior in response to ocelot density. In an additional experiment to corroborate that agoutis’ responses were caused by ocelots’ cues, we found lower dispersal rates for seeds placed next to samples of urine and feces of ocelots as compared to controls, during the first seven days. Moreover, agoutis spent less time handling the seeds with ocelots’ cues. Here, we discuss potential cascading effects linked to the behavior of agoutis towards predation risk.

Funding

Universidad de Panamá, Award: CUFI-2018-CNET-P-017