, Volume 173, Issue 3, pp 753–766 | Cite as

Responses of a top and a meso predator and their prey to moon phases

  • Vincenzo PenterianiEmail author
  • Anna Kuparinen
  • Maria del Mar Delgado
  • Francisco Palomares
  • José Vicente López-Bao
  • José María Fedriani
  • Javier Calzada
  • Sacramento Moreno
  • Rafael Villafuerte
  • Letizia Campioni
  • Rui Lourenço
Behavioral ecology - Original research


We compared movement patterns and rhythms of activity of a top predator, the Iberian lynx Lynx pardinus, a mesopredator, the red fox Vulpes vulpes, and their shared principal prey, the rabbit Oryctolagus cuniculus, in relation to moon phases. Because the three species are mostly nocturnal and crepuscular, we hypothesized that the shared prey would reduce its activity at most risky moon phases (i.e. during the brightest nights), but that fox, an intraguild prey of lynx, would avoid lynx activity peaks at the same time. Rabbits generally moved further from their core areas on darkest nights (i.e. new moon), using direct movements which minimize predation risk. Though rabbits responded to the increased predation risk by reducing their activity during the full moon, this response may require several days, and the moon effect we observed on the rabbits had, therefore, a temporal gap. Lynx activity patterns may be at least partially mirroring rabbit activity: around new moons, when rabbits moved furthest and were more active, lynxes reduced their travelling distances and their movements were concentrated in the core areas of their home ranges, which generally correspond to areas of high density of rabbits. Red foxes were more active during the darkest nights, when both the conditions for rabbit hunting were the best and lynxes moved less. On the one hand, foxes increased their activity when rabbits were further from their core areas and moved with more discrete displacements; on the other hand, fox activity in relation to the moon seemed to reduce dangerous encounters with its intraguild predator.


Carnivore coexistence Intraguild predation Lunar cycle Predator–prey interactions Top/mesopredators 



We would like to thank E. Revilla and J. C. Rivilla, as well as numerous students, who collaborated with the carnivore field work. J. Sundell and two anonymous referees provided useful comments that improved the manuscript. This study was funded by six research projects of the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation (PB90-1018, PB94-0480, PB97-1163, CGL2004-02780/BOS, CGL2004-00346/BOS and CGL2008-02871/BOS; with FEDER co-financing) and one of the Spanish Ministry of the Environment, National Parks Research Programme (project 17/2005), a grant of the Ministry of Education and Science–C.S.I.C. (Proyectos Intramurales Especiales, DG-2606-PC), and the Junta of Andalucía (Excellence Project, RNM-5090). V. P. was the recipient of a grant from the Spanish Secretaría General de Universidades, Ministry of Education (Salvador de Madariaga Program); A. K. received a post-doctoral grant (no. 132828) from the Academy of Finland. M. M. D. received a post-doctoral fellowship from the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation and a post-doctoral grant (no. 140367) from the Academy of Finland, and J. V. L. B. received a post-doctoral fellowship from the Spanish Ministry of Education. The Regional Government of Andalucía partly funded the supplementary feeding programme of lynx (LIFE-02NAT/8609). Land Rover España kindly lent two vehicles for the research on the lynx. Methods of capture and handling of lynx complied with the norms of the Spanish Animal Protection RD1201/2005 and were specifically approved by the competent administration (the Regional Government of Andalusia and the Doñana National Park) under permit no. RS-2093/04.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Vincenzo Penteriani
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Anna Kuparinen
    • 3
    • 4
  • Maria del Mar Delgado
    • 1
    • 5
  • Francisco Palomares
    • 1
  • José Vicente López-Bao
    • 1
    • 6
  • José María Fedriani
    • 1
    • 7
  • Javier Calzada
    • 8
  • Sacramento Moreno
    • 9
  • Rafael Villafuerte
    • 10
  • Letizia Campioni
    • 1
  • Rui Lourenço
    • 1
    • 11
  1. 1.Department of Conservation BiologyEstación Biológica de Doñana (EBD-C.S.I.C.)SevilleSpain
  2. 2.Finnish Museum of Natural History, Zoological MuseumUniversity of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland
  3. 3.Department of Environmental SciencesUniversity of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland
  4. 4.Department of BiosciencesUniversity of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland
  5. 5.Department of Biosciences, Metapopulation Research GroupUniversity of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland
  6. 6.Grimsö Wildlife Research Station, Department of EcologySwedish University of Agricultural SciencesRiddarhyttanSweden
  7. 7.Department of Ecological ModellingHelmholtz Centre for Environmental Research GmbH-UFZLeipzigGermany
  8. 8.Departamento de Biología Ambiental y Salud PúblicaUniversidad de HuelvaHuelvaSpain
  9. 9.Department of Biodiversity Conservation and Applied BiologyEstación Biológica de Doñana, C.S.I.CSevilleSpain
  10. 10.Instituto de Investigación en Recursos Cinegéticos, IREC (CSIC-UCLM-JCCM)Ciudad RealSpain
  11. 11.Instituto de Ciências Agrárias e Ambientais Mediterrânicas (ICAAM), Laboratório de Ornitologia (LabOr)Universidade de ÉvoraÉvoraPortugal

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