EcoHealth

, Volume 9, Issue 1, pp 70–74 | Cite as

The Ecology of Fear: Host Foraging Behavior Varies with the Spatio-temporal Abundance of a Dominant Ectoparasite

Short Communication

Abstract

Prey engage in myriad behaviors to avoid predation, and these indirect effects of predators on their prey are often measured by the amount of food abandoned by a forager (the “giving-up density”, or GUD) in a given habitat. Recent evidence suggests that hosts may engage in comparable behaviors to avoid exposure to parasites. We investigated changes in local foraging and regional space use by mammal hosts for the lone star tick (Amblyomma americanum), using GUDs as an indicator of the perceived risk of parasitism. At eight study sites at the Tyson Research Center (Eureka, MO), we placed two feeding trays, one on the ground and one at 1.5 m height in a tree, in order to assess how the emergence of ground-dwelling ticks affected foraging by several mammal species both locally (between the two GUD stations) and regionally (among the eight sites, mean distance 1064 m apart). Though GUDs did not differ between the ground and tree GUD stations, we did find that greater amounts of food were “given-up” at sites with higher abundances of ticks. This increase in food abandonment suggests that hosts respond to the risk of parasitism and alter their space use accordingly, potentially affecting a cascade of other ecological interactions across large spatial scales.

Keywords

host–parasite interactions ticks giving-up density (GUD) ecology of fear tick-borne diseases 

References

  1. Allan BF, Varns TS, Chase JM (2010a) Fear of parasites: lone star ticks increase giving-up densities in white-tailed deer. Israel Journal of Ecology and Evolution 56: 313–324CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Allan BF, Goessling LS, Storch GA, Thach RE (2010b) Blood meal analysis to identify reservoir hosts for Amblyomma americanum ticks. Emerging Infectious Diseases 16:433–440PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Altizer S, Bartel R, Han BA (2011) Animal migration and infectious disease risk. Science 331:296–302PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Brown J, Laundré J, Gurung M (1999) The ecology of fear: optimal foraging, game theory, and trophic interactions. Journal of Mammalogy 80:385–399CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Goessling LS, Allan BF, Mandelbaum RS, Thach RE (in press) Development of mitochondrial 12S rDNA analysis for distinguishing Sciuridae species with potential to transmit Ehrlichia and Borrelia species to feeding Amblyomma americanum (Acari: Ixodidae). Journal of Medical Entomology Google Scholar
  6. Hart BL (1990) Behavioral adaptations to pathogens and parasites: five strategies. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews 14:273–294CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Jacob J, Brown JS (2000) Microhabitat use, giving-up densities and temporal activity as short- and long-term anti-predator behaviors in common voles. Oikos 91:131–138CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. James CT, Noyes KJ, Stumbo AD, Wisenden BD, Goater CP (2008) Cost of exposure to trematode cercariae and learned recognition and avoidance of parasitism risk by fathead minnows Pimephales promelas. Journal of Fish Biology 73:2238–2248CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Kollars TM, Jr., Oliver JH, Jr., Durden LA, Kollars PG (2000) Host Associations and Seasonal Activity of Amblyomma americanum (Acari: Ixodidae) in Missouri. The Journal of Parasitology 86:1156–1159PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Kotler BP, Brown J, Mukherjee S, Berger-Tal O, Bouskila A (2010) Moonlight avoidance in gerbils reveals a sophisticated interplay among time allocation, vigilance and state-dependent foraging. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 277:1469–1474PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Laundré JW (2010) Behavioral response races, predator-prey shell games, ecology of fear, and patch use of pumas and their ungulate prey. Ecology 91:2995–3007.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Lozano GA (1991). Optimal foraging theory: a possible role for parasites. Oikos 60:391-395CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. MacArthur R, Pianka E (1966) On optimal use of a patchy environment. American Naturalist 100:603–609.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Mouritsen K, Poulin R (2005) Parasites boosts biodiversity and changes animal community structure by trait-mediated indirect effects. Oikos 108:344–350CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Pekarsky BL, Abrams PA, Bolnick DI, Dill LM, Grabowski JK, Luttberg B, et al. (2008). Revisiting the classics: Considering nonconsumptive effects in textbook examples of predator-prey interactions. Nature 89:2416–2425Google Scholar
  16. Raffel T, Martin L, Rohr J (2008) Parasites as predators: unifying natural enemy ecology. Trends in Ecology & Evolution 23:610–618CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Ripple W, Beschta R (2004) Wolves and the ecology of fear: can predation risk structure ecosystems? Bioscience 54:755–766CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Rohr J, Swan A, Raffel T, Hudson P (2009) Parasites, info-disruption, and the ecology of fear. Oecologia 159:447–454PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Schulze TL, Jordan RA, Hung RW (1997) Biases Associated with Several Sampling Methods Used To Estimate Abundance of Ixodes scapularis and Amblyomma americanum (Acari: Ixodidae). Journal of Medical Entomology 34:615–623PubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. Witter LA, Johnson CJ, Croft B, Gunn A, Gillingham MP (2011) Behavioural trade-offs in response to external stimuli: time allocation of an Arctic ungulate during varying intensities of harassment by parasitic flies. Journal of Animal Ecology 81:284–295PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© International Association for Ecology and Health 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Tyson Research CenterWashington University in St. LouisEurekaUSA
  2. 2.Odum School of EcologyUniversity of GeorgiaAthensUSA
  3. 3.Department of EntomologyUniversity of Illinois Urbana-ChampaignUrbanaUSA

Personalised recommendations