, Volume 82, Issue 2, pp 187-191

Effects of predation-risk on habitat use by Himalayan Snowcocks

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Summary

When given a choice, animals often prefer foraging habitats where predation risk is low, even if such habitats provide reduced foraging opportunities. We evaluated foraging rates of tame but free-ranging Himalayan Snowcocks (Tetraogallus himalayensis) in 16 types of alpine habitats. Foraging rate was highest on level or slightly-sloping terrain and where grasses were relatively abundant. We also observed 102 wild snowcocks and found they were most nervous about raptorial predators when on level or slightly-sloping terrain and in small coveys. Snowcocks face a dilemma: they are most vulnerable to raptors in areas where they can forage most efficiently. During summer snowcocks trade off higher foraging efficiency on level terrain for lower predation risk on steeper terrain. During winter, when raptor numbers are lower, snowcocks apparently revert to using level or slightly-sloping, high-efficiency foraging habitats. Risk of predation plays an important role in habitat selection and resource utilization by snowcocks.