Common ravens raid arctic fox food caches
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Cache recovery is critical for evolution of hoarding behaviour, because the energy invested in caching may be lost if consumers other than the hoarders benefit from the cached food. By raiding food caches, animals may exploit the caching habits of others, that should respond by actively defending their caches. The arctic fox (Alopex lagopus) is the main predator of lemmings and goose eggs in the Canadian High Arctic and stores much of its prey in the ground. Common ravens (Corvus corax) are not as successful as foxes in taking eggs from goose nests. This generalist avian predator regularly uses innovation and opportunism to survive in many environments. Here, we provide the first report that ravens can successfully raid food cached by foxes, and that foxes may defend their caches from ravens.
KeywordsAlopex lagopus Corvus corax Food caching Cache raiding Defence of food caches Foraging innovation Bylot Island
Thanks to Gabrielle Darou and Ambroise Lycke for field assistance. We are indebted to the Hunters and Trappers Association of Pond Inlet, Nunavut Territory, for assistance and support. VC is grateful to the Mountain Equipment Coop for providing material and to Sanimal for a scholarship. Université Laval and the Centre d’Études Nordiques provided financial assistance to NL. Funding and support were provided by the Polar Continental Shelf Project, Fonds Québécois de la Recherche sur la Nature et les Technologies, the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, Canada Network of Centres Excellence ArcticNet, and the Canada Research Chair Program. We thank Luc Alain Giraldeau, Denis Réale, Louis Lefebvre, and the Groupe de Recherche en Écologie Comportementale et Animale (GRÉCA) for fruitful discussions and Heather Bryan for proofreading. We are grateful to two anonymous referees for constructive comments on the manuscript. This is Polar Continental Shelf Project contribution no 01905.
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