Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 68, Issue 2, pp 299–308 | Cite as

Patch use and vigilance by sympatric lemmings in predator and competitor-driven landscapes of fear

  • Angélique Dupuch
  • Douglas W. Morris
  • William D. Halliday
Original Paper

Abstract

Prey living in risky environments can adopt a variety of behavioral tactics to reduce predation risk. In systems where predators regulate prey abundance, it is reasonable to assume that differential patterns of habitat use by prey species represent adaptive responses to spatial variation in predation. However, patterns of habitat use also reflect interspecific competition over habitat. Collared (Dicrostonyx groenlandicus) and brown (Lemmus trimucronatus) lemmings represent such a system and possess distinct upland tundra versus mesic meadow habitat preferences consistent with interspecific competition. Yet, we do not know whether this habitat preference might also reflect differences in predation risk or whether the two species differ in their behavioral tactics used to avoid predation. We performed experiments where we manipulated putative predation risk perceived by lemmings by increasing protective cover in upland and meadow habitats while we recorded lemming activity and behavior. Both lemming species preferentially used cover more than open patches, but Dicrostonyx was more vigilant than Lemmus. Both species also constrained their activity to protective patches in upland and meadow habitats, but during different periods of the day. Use of cover and vigilance were independent of habitat, suggesting that both species live in a fearsome but flattened landscape of fear at Walker Bay (Nunavut, Canada), and that their habitat preference is a consequence of competition rather than predation risk. Future studies aiming to map the contours of fear in multi-prey–predator systems should consider how predation and competition interact to modify prey species’ habitat preference, patch use, and vigilance.

Keywords

Activity pattern Antipredator behavior Competition Dicrostonyx Lemmus Predation risk 

Supplementary material

265_2013_1645_MOESM1_ESM.doc (228 kb)
ESM 1(DOC 227 kb)
265_2013_1645_MOESM2_ESM.doc (60 kb)
ESM 2(DOC 60 kb)

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Angélique Dupuch
    • 1
    • 2
  • Douglas W. Morris
    • 2
  • William D. Halliday
    • 3
  1. 1.Institut des Sciences de la Forêt TempéréeUniversité du Québec en OutaouaisRiponCanada
  2. 2.Department of BiologyLakehead UniversityThunder BayCanada
  3. 3.Department of BiologyUniversity of OttawaOttawaCanada

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