Predation hazard and seed removal by small mammals: microhabitat versus patch scale effects
- 1) Department of Environmental Sciences and Blandy Experimental Farm, University of Virginia, Clark Hall, 22903, Charlottesville, VA, USA
Predator avoidance may involve response strategies of prey species that are time and space specific. Many studies have shown that foraging individuals avoid predators by altering microhabitat usage; alternatively, sites may be selected according to larger-scale features of the habitat mosaic. We measured seed removal by two small mammal species (Peromyscus leucopus, and Microtus pennsylvanicus) at 474 stations over an experimentally created landscape of 12 patches, and under conditions of relatively high (full moon) and low (new moon) predatory hazard. Our objective was to determine whether predator avoidance involved the selection of small-, medium-, or large-scale features of the landscape (i.e., at the scale of microhabitats, habitats, or habitat patches). We found rates of seed removal to vary more with features of whole patches than according to variation in structural microhabitats within patches. Specific responses included: under-utilization of patch edge habitats during full moon periods, and microhabitat effects that were only significant when considered in conjunction with larger-scale features of the landscape. Individuals residing on large patches altered use of microhabitats/habitats to a greater extent than those on smaller patches. Studies just focusing on patterns of microhabitat use will miss responses at the larger scales, and may underestimate the importance of predation to animal foraging behavior.
- 1 - sciences appliquees, technologies et medecines
- 2 - sciences biologiques et medicales
- 3 - sciences biologiques fondamentales et appliquees. psychologie
- 1 - Life Sciences ; 2 - Agricultural and Biological Sciences ; 3 - Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics