Original Papers

Oecologia

, Volume 83, Issue 4, pp 512-518

Testing values of crested porcupine habitats by experimental food patches

  • Joel S. BrownAffiliated withMitrani Center for Desert Ecology, Jacob Blaustein Institute for Desert Research, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev
  • , Philip U. AlkonAffiliated withMitrani Center for Desert Ecology, Jacob Blaustein Institute for Desert Research, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

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Summary

We established depletable, artificial food patches in three habitats used by Indian crested porcupines (Hystrix indica) in a desert biome, and measured the number of food items remaining (i.e., “giving up density”=GUD) following nightly foraging bouts. Porcupines discriminated between resource types (peanuts vs. garbanzo beans), and exhibited clear habitat preferences in the face of uniform resource availability in time and space. Lowest GUD's (=lowest foraging costs) were in the habitat of densest cover, and during dark (little or no moon) nights. The results indicated a high sensitivity to predation risk. Crested porcupines behaved as expected of optimal foragers, and appear to be excellent subjects for further field experiments using the GUD approach.

Key words

Habitat selection Foraging behavior Predation costs Desert porcupines