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Assessing blue wildebeests' vigilance, grouping and foraging responses to perceived predation risk using playback experiments.

08:00 EDT 20th May 2019 | BioPortfolio

Summary of "Assessing blue wildebeests' vigilance, grouping and foraging responses to perceived predation risk using playback experiments."

Two aspects of reactive antipredator behaviour are still unclear for ungulates. First, when there is a direct predation threat, how do prey balance antipredator and social vigilance to learn a predator's location and assess the risk? Second, how do an individual's group and environment affect its responses? We tested the responses of adult females in 101 groups of wildebeest to playbacks of lion roars or car noises in Etosha National Park, Namibia. We analysed how the times they spent in different types categories of vigilance, and their within-group density, were affected by the playbacks and how a range of social and environmental variables affected those responses. Females increased their antipredator vigilance but not their social vigilance, after lion roars but not car noises, suggesting that they mostly relied on their own vigilance rather than social information to try to find the source of the lion roars. Females' antipredator vigilance increased more when they were further from cover and with other prey species, suggesting that both circumstances increased their perception of risk. They 'bunched' more after lion roars than car noises and their bite rates decreased as they bunched. Animals' use of social information about threats is likely to be context-dependent.

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Name: Behavioural processes
ISSN: 1872-8308
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