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Oecologia

, Volume 189, Issue 2, pp 487–500 | Cite as

Habitat use of sympatric prey suggests divergent anti-predator responses to recolonizing gray wolves

  • Justin A. DellingerEmail author
  • Carolyn R. Shores
  • Apryle Craig
  • Michael R. Heithaus
  • William J. Ripple
  • Aaron J. Wirsing
Community ecology – original research

Abstract

The non-consumptive effects of predators on prey are now widely recognized, but the need remains for studies identifying the factors that determine how particular prey species respond behaviorally when threatened with predation. We took advantage of ongoing gray wolf (Canis lupus) recolonization in eastern Washington, USA, to contrast habitat use of two sympatric prey species—mule (Odocoileus hemionus) and white-tailed (O. virginianus) deer—at sites with and without established wolf packs. Under the hypothesis that the nature and scale of responses by these ungulates to wolf predation risk depend on their divergent flight tactics (i.e., modes of fleeing from an approaching predator), we predicted that (1) mule deer would respond to wolves with coarse-scale spatial shifts to rugged terrain favoring their stotting tactic; (2) white-tailed deer would manage wolf risk with fine-scale shifts toward gentle terrain facilitating their galloping tactic within their current home range. Resource selection functions based on 61 mule deer and 59 white-tailed deer equipped with GPS radio-collars from 2013 to 2016 revealed that habitat use for each species was altered by wolf presence, but in divergent ways that supported our predictions. Our findings add to a growing literature highlighting flight behavior as a viable predictor of prey responses to predation risk across multiple ecosystem types. Consequently, they suggest that predators could initiate multiple indirect non-consumptive effects in the same ecosystem that are transmitted by divergent responses of sympatric prey with different flight tactics.

Keywords

Canis lupus Galloping Mule deer Non-consumptive effects Odocoileus hemionus O. virginianus Predation risk Stotting White-tailed deer 

Notes

Acknowledgements

We are grateful to the Colville Tribes Fish and Wildlife Department, and especially to E. Krausz and R. Whitney, for permission to access their lands, guidance, logistical support, and comments on an earlier version of the manuscript. We also thank the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, and especially M. Marsh, for guidance and logistical support. Field assistance was provided by M. Bianco, K. Ebenhoch, J. Fournier, A. Smethurst, K. Perensovich, S. Stark, C. Montgomerie, B. Woodruff, I. Hull, C. Whitney, and TC Walker. Valuable field training was provided by W. Myers and J. Kujala.

Author contribution statement

AJW, MRH, and WJR originally conceptualized the study. JAD, CRS, and AC contributed to fieldwork. JAD analyzed the data and led the writing of the manuscript. All authors contributed critically to the drafts and gave final approval for publication.

Funding

This project was carried out under NSF DEB grants 1145902 (AJW) and 1145522 (MRH). Additional funding was provided by the Safari Club International Foundation, Conservation Northwest, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (Aquatic Lands Enhancement Account, ALEA: AJW and JAD), the University of Washington Student Technology Fee (STF: CRS and JAD) program, and the University of Washington USEED program (AJW, JAD, CRS, and AC).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Ethical approval

All applicable institutional and/or national guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed.

Supplementary material

442_2018_4323_MOESM1_ESM.docx (256 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 256 kb)

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Justin A. Dellinger
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Carolyn R. Shores
    • 1
  • Apryle Craig
    • 1
  • Michael R. Heithaus
    • 3
  • William J. Ripple
    • 4
  • Aaron J. Wirsing
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Environmental and Forest SciencesUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA
  2. 2.Wildlife Investigations LabCalifornia Department of Fish and WildlifeRancho CordovaUSA
  3. 3.Department of Biological SciencesFlorida International UniversityNorth MiamiUSA
  4. 4.Global Trophic Cascades Program, Department of Forest Ecosystems and SocietyOregon State UniversityCorvallisUSA

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