Variation in anti-predator behaviors of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) in a multi-predator system

Canadian Journal of Zoology, e-First Articles. Anti-predator responses to perceived predation risk can influence population demography. Understanding the relative effect of predator exposure and intraspecific interactions across a variety of anti-predator behaviors provides important insight into inter- and intra-specific drivers of species-specific behaviors. We merged classical behavioral observation methods with camera trapping techniques to examine anti-predator behaviors of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus (Zimmermann, 1780)) relative to variation in predator exposure and interspecific interactions. We coded 772 behavioral observations from>180  000 images spanning 605 trap-nights. Seasonal differences in behavioral responses to diminishing returns on foraging effort indicated that deer are risk-averse foragers and are more likely to exhibit risky behaviors in the presence of a concentrated food resource when the nutritional value of foo d resources are high. However, deer tended to spend less time at a site as resources diminished, supporting marginal value theories of habitat use. Intraspecific interaction predicted vigilance and the amount of time spent at a site. Similar to many other species, deer tended to be less vigilant and spend more time at a site as group size increased. Our research suggests that white-tailed deer in Wisconsin make foraging decisions based on factors associated with individual fitness, presence of conspecifics, and habitat...
Source: Canadian Journal of Zoology - Category: Zoology Authors: Source Type: research

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