Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Antipredator response diminishes during periods of resource deficit for a large herbivore

March 13, 2019

The starvation-predation hypothesis predicts that, during resource shortages, prey forego antipredator behavior and forage as much as possible to avoid starvation, even when risk of predation is high. We tested this hypothesis using GPS locations collected simultaneously from moose (Alces alces) and wolves (Canis lupus) in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem of North America. We assessed shifts in the speed, displacement, and habitat selection of moose 24 hours following encounter with wolves (0–1500 m distance). We examined whether the strength of antipredator behaviors would weaken as winter progressed and the nutritional condition of moose declined. Moose responded to wolf encounters by increasing their rate of movement in early winter, but only within 500 m distance. Importantly, these responses attenuated as winter progressed. Moose did not avoid their preferred foraging habitat (riparian areas) following encounters with wolves at any distance, and instead they more strongly selected riparian areas, especially in early winter. Our findings support theoretical predictions that resource deficits should dampen prey antipredator behavior, and suggest that nutritional condition of prey may buffer against run-away risk effects in food webs involving large mammalian predators and prey.

Publication Year 2019
Title Antipredator response diminishes during periods of resource deficit for a large herbivore
DOI 10.1002/ecy.2618
Authors Brendan A. Oates, J.A. Merkle, Matthew Kauffman, S.R. Dewey, M.D. Jimenez, J.M. Vartanian, S.A. Becker, J.R. Goheen
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Ecology
Index ID 70228343
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Coop Res Unit Seattle