Prey refuges as predator hotspots: ocelot (Leopardus pardalis) attraction to agouti (Dasyprocta punctata) dens

Emsens, Willem-Jans, Hirsch, Ben T., Kays, Roland, and Jansen, Patrick A. (2014) Prey refuges as predator hotspots: ocelot (Leopardus pardalis) attraction to agouti (Dasyprocta punctata) dens. Acta Theriologica, 59. pp. 257-262.

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We tested the hypothesis that prey refuges attract predators, leading to elevated predator activity in the vicinity of refuges. We used camera traps to determine whether the spatial activity of a predator, the ocelot (Leopardus pardalis), was biased toward refuge locations of its principal prey, the agouti (Dasyprocta punctata). We radio-tracked agoutis at night to locate active refuges and compared the activity of ocelots between these refuges and surrounding control grid locations. We found that ocelots visited the area near agouti refuges significantly more often and for longer periods of time than control locations, and that they actively investigated the refuge entrances. Both occupied and unoccupied refuges were visited, but the duration of inspection was longer at occupied refuges. As the ocelots could probably not see the agoutis within the refuges, olfaction likely cued foraging ocelots. Two refuges were repeatedly visited by the same ocelots on different days, suggesting spatial memory. Overall, our results suggest that predators can be attracted to prey refuges or refuging prey. The benefits to prey of staying nearby a refuge would thus be counterbalanced by higher likelihoods of predator encounter. This should stimulate prey to use multiple refuges alternatingly and to not enter or exit refuges at times of high predator activity.

Item ID: 44218
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 2199-241X
Keywords: Agouti, behavior, movement, ocelot, predation, refuge
Funders: National Science Foundation (NSF), Netherlands Foundation for Scientific Research (NFSR)
Projects and Grants: NSF DEB0717071, NFSR NWO-WOTRO W85-239 and NWO-ALW 863-07-008
Date Deposited: 01 Aug 2016 23:25
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060201 Behavioural Ecology @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960806 Forest and Woodlands Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 100%
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