Behavioural responses of ungulates to indirect cues of an ambush predator

in Behaviour
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Ambush predators provide more persistent cues of predation risk compared to coursing predators and are predicted to exert stronger effects on behaviour of their prey. We studied anti-predator responses of ungulates by means of camera traps to an olfactory cue (fresh scat) of an ambush predator, the Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx). Roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) and red deer (Cervus elaphus) both important prey species for lynx were not more vigilant when exposed to lynx scent, but reduced their visitation duration. Our results contrast with previously reported responses of red deer to scent from a coursing predator, the wolf (Canis lupus), where only vigilance and foraging behaviour but not visitation duration changed in response to wolf scat. This indicates that ungulates are able to recognize the risk of predation from predators with differing hunting modes based on olfactory cues and adjust their anti-predatory behaviour.

Behavioural responses of ungulates to indirect cues of an ambush predator

in Behaviour



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    Visitation duration (mean ± SE) by (a) roe deer (N=78) at forest edges, (b) red deer (N=158) in forest gaps, (c) red deer (N=105) at forest edges and (d) wild boar (N=360) in forest gaps at lynx scat and control sites in the Białowieża Primeval Forest.

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