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Predator-prey distance and latency to flee from an immobile predator: Functional relationship and importance

AuthorsCooper, William E.; Martín Rueda, José
Latency to flee
Escape behavior
Antipredatory behavior
Standing distance
Issue Date1-Apr-2016
PublisherOxford University Press
CitationCurrent Zoology 62(2): 117-122 (2016)
AbstractWhen an immobile prey has detected an immobile predator nearby, predation risk is greater when the predator is closer. Consequently, prey flee with shorter latency as standing distance (predator-prey distance when both are still) decreases. Since it was first reported in 2009, this relationship has been confirmed in the few species studied. However, little is known about the functional relationship between standing distance and latency to flee (LF). We hypothesized that LF increases as standing distance increases at short distances, but reaches a plateau at longer distances where prey can escape reliably if attacked. We simulated immobile predators by moving slowly into positions near striped plateau lizards Sceloporus virgatus, stopping and then remaining immobile, and recording LF from the stopping time. LF increased from shorter to longer standing distances in a decelerating manner. The relationship was concave downward, and LF was indistinguishable among the longer standing distance groups. Latency to flee appears to reach a plateau or approach an asymptotic value as standing distance increases. The effect size of standing distance was large, indicating that S. virgatus sensitively adjusts LF to the level of risk associated with standing distance. Relationships between risk assessment and theoretical zones associated with risk, its assessment by prey, and escape decisions are discussed. Effect sizes of standing distance were substantial to large in all studies to date, indicating that standing distance is an important predation risk factor when both predator and prey are immobile.
Identifiersdoi: 10.1093/cz/zow035
issn: 1674-5507
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