Behavioral Tradeoffs Associated with Predation

Antipredator behavior often involves animals making some type of tradeoff- when animals spend time engaged in antipredator activity, they could, in principle, be doing something else, such as foraging, mating, resting, etc. To see this, let us examine the tradeoff between antipredator behavior and foraging. Predation pressure affects virtually every aspect of foraging, from when a forager begins feeding to when it resumes feeding after an interruption, to where it feeds, what it eats, and how it handles its prey.

Work on predation and foraging in the gray squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) has demonstrated that squirrels alter their foraging choices as a result of predation pressure from red-tailed hawks (Buteo jamaicensis). Squirrels who could either eat their food items where they found such items or carry the food to cover were more likely to carry items to an area of safe cover when predation threat was significant - the closer the refuge from predation, the more likely they would use such a shelter when foraging.

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