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Plasticity in daily activity patterns of a key prey species to reduce predation risk

AuthorsDescalzo, Esther; Tobajas, Jorge; Villafuerte, Rafael ; Mateo, Rafael ; Ferreras, Pablo
Issue Date2019
Citation8th European Congress of Mammalogy (2019)
AbstractSome prey species can shift their daily activity patterns for reducing the predation risk. In turn, predators develop strategies to increase their chances of meeting and capturing prey. The European or wild rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) is a key prey for many predators in Iberian Mediterranean ecosystems. Our aim was to test if rabbits can adapt their activity to different predation risks. Rabbits were translocated to a semi-permeable fenced plot and to unfenced areas of central Spain during two periods. We estimated daily activity patterns and relative abundance index (RAI) for both rabbits and carnivore predators using camera-traps. Rabbit daily activity differed between fenced and unfenced areas, being more nocturnal in the first scenario. Activity overlap between Egyptian mongooses (Herpestes ichneumon, strictly diurnal) and rabbits was low in all the areas in the first year, but overlap was moderate in unfenced areas in the second year, when RAI for Egyptian mongoose decreased. However, activity overlap between red fox (Vulpes vulpes, nocturnal and crepuscular) and rabbits in unfenced areas was high and moderate in the first and second year, respectively. Foxes were not detected in the fenced plot in the first year and were scarcely detected in the second year. These results suggest that rabbit nocturnal activity in the fenced plot was an adaptation to avoid the predation risk by the diurnal Egyptian mongoose depending on its relative abundance. Contrarily, rabbits in unfenced areas showed the typical daylight/twilight activity patterns as an adaptation to reduce the predation risk by the whole carnivore community. We conclude that rabbits adapt their daily activity patterns to reduce the predation risk depending on the pressure exerted by their predator species.
DescriptionResumen del trabajo presentado al 8th European Congress of Mammalogy, celebrado en Varsovia (Polonia) del 23 al 27 de noviembre de 2019.
Appears in Collections:(IESA) Comunicaciones congresos
(IREC) Comunicaciones congresos
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