Temporal shifts in activity of prey following large predator reintroductions
- First Online:
- Cite this article as:
- Tambling, C.J., Minnie, L., Meyer, J. et al. Behav Ecol Sociobiol (2015) 69: 1153. doi:10.1007/s00265-015-1929-6
- 733 Downloads
The response of prey to predation risk varies through time and space. These responses relate to trade-offs between foraging and predator avoidance. Following the extirpation of predators from many landscapes, the responses related to predator avoidance may have been lost or diluted. Investigating the activity pattern of prey species on comparable landscapes with and without large predators provides an opportunity to understand how predators may shape prey activity and behaviour. Using camera trap data from neighbouring fenced sections of the Addo Elephant National Park (Eastern Cape, South Africa), we investigated the activity patterns of species exposed to large predators, where the predators were only present in one of the sections. Our results suggest that prey species at risk of predation (e.g., buffalo, kudu and warthog) are more likely to be active diurnally when co-existing with nocturnally active predators, thereby reducing the activity overlap with these predators. In the absence of predators, kudu and buffalo were more active at night resulting in a low overlap in activity between sections. Warthog activity was predominantly diurnal in both sections, resulting in a high overlap in activity between sections. The presence of predators reduced the nocturnal activity of warthogs from 6 to 0.6 % of all warthog captures in each section. Elephants, which are above the preferred prey weight range of the predators and therefore have a low risk of predation, showed higher overlap in activity periodicity between predator-present and predator-absent areas. Our findings suggest that maintaining prey with their predators has the added benefit of conserving the full spectrum of prey adaptive behaviours.