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1.
J Anim Ecol ; 89(6): 1511-1519, 2020 Jun.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-32145069

RESUMO

While the functional response of predators is commonly measured, recent work has revealed that the age and sex composition of prey killed is often a better predictor of prey population dynamics because the reproductive value of adult females is usually higher than that of males or juveniles. Climate is often an important mediating factor in determining the composition of predator kills, but we currently lack a mechanistic understanding of how the multiple facets of climate interact with prey abundance and demography to influence the composition of predator kills. Over 20 winters, we monitored 17 wolf packs in Yellowstone National Park and recorded the sex, age and nutritional condition of kills of their dominant prey-elk-in both early and late winter periods when elk are in relatively good and relatively poor condition, respectively. Nutritional condition (as indicated by per cent marrow fat) of wolf-killed elk varied markedly with summer plant productivity, snow water equivalent (SWE) and winter period. Moreover, marrow was poorer for wolf-killed bulls and especially for calves than it was for cows. Wolf prey composition was influenced by a complex set of climatic and endogenous variables. In early winter, poor plant growth in either year t or t - 1, or relatively low elk abundance, increased the odds of wolves killing bulls relative to cows. Calves were most likely to get killed when elk abundance was high and when the forage productivity they experienced in utero was poor. In late winter, low SWE and a relatively large elk population increased the odds of wolves killing calves relative to cows, whereas low SWE and poor vegetation productivity 1 year prior together increased the likelihood of wolves killing a bull instead of a cow. Since climate has a strong influence on whether wolves prey on cows (who, depending on their age, are the key reproductive components of the population) or lower reproductive value of calves and bulls, our results suggest that climate can drive wolf predation to be more or less additive from year to year.

2.
J Anim Ecol ; 89(1): 120-131, 2020 01.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-30838656

RESUMO

The extent to which prey space use actively minimizes predation risk continues to ignite controversy. Methodological reasons that have hindered consensus include inconsistent measurements of predation risk, biased spatiotemporal scales at which responses are measured and lack of robust null expectations. We addressed all three challenges in a comprehensive analysis of the spatiotemporal responses of adult female elk (Cervus elaphus) to the risk of predation by wolves (Canis lupus) during winter in northern Yellowstone, USA. We quantified spatial overlap between the winter home ranges of GPS-collared elk and three measures of predation risk: the intensity of wolf space use, the distribution of wolf-killed elk and vegetation openness. We also assessed whether elk varied their use of areas characterized by more or less predation risk across hours of the day, and estimated encounter rates between simultaneous elk and wolf pack trajectories. We determined whether observed values were significantly lower than expected if elk movements were random with reference to predation risk using a null model approach. Although a small proportion of elk did show a tendency to minimize use of open vegetation at specific times of the day, overall we highlight a notable absence of spatiotemporal response by female elk to the risk of predation posed by wolves in northern Yellowstone. Our results suggest that predator-prey interactions may not always result in strong spatiotemporal patterns of avoidance.


Assuntos
Cervos , Lobos , Animais , Feminino , Movimento , Comportamento Predatório , Estações do Ano
3.
Ecol Lett ; 22(11): 1724-1733, 2019 Nov.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-31373137

RESUMO

Many ecosystems contain sympatric predator species that hunt in different places and times. We tested whether this provides vacant hunting domains, places and times where and when predators are least active, that prey use to minimize threats from multiple predators simultaneously. We measured how northern Yellowstone elk (Cervus elaphus) responded to wolves (Canis lupus) and cougars (Puma concolor), and found that elk selected for areas outside the high-risk domains of both predators consistent with the vacant domain hypothesis. This enabled elk to avoid one predator without necessarily increasing its exposure to the other. Our results demonstrate how the diel cycle can serve as a key axis of the predator hunting domain that prey exploit to manage predation risk from multiple sources. We argue that a multi-predator, spatiotemporal framework is vital to understand the causes and consequences of prey spatial response to predation risk in environments with more than one predator.


Assuntos
Cervos , Lobos , Animais , Ecossistema , Comportamento Predatório
4.
Ecol Evol ; 8(22): 11158-11168, 2018 Nov.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-30519433

RESUMO

Top predators have cascading effects throughout the food web, but their impacts on scavenger abundance are largely unknown. Gray wolves (Canis lupus) provide carrion to a suite of scavenger species, including the common raven (Corvus corax). Ravens are wide-ranging and intelligent omnivores that commonly take advantage of anthropogenic food resources. In areas where they overlap with wolves, however, ravens are numerous and ubiquitous scavengers of wolf-acquired carrion. We aimed to determine whether subsidies provided through wolves are a limiting factor for raven populations in general and how the wolf reintroduction to Yellowstone National Park in 1995-1997 affected raven population abundance and distribution on the Yellowstone's Northern Range specifically. We counted ravens throughout Yellowstone's Northern Range in March from 2009 to 2017 in both human-use areas and wolf habitat. We then used statistics related to the local wolf population and the winter weather conditions to model raven abundance during our study period and predict raven abundance on the Northern Range both before and after the wolf reintroduction. In relatively severe winters with greater snowpack, raven abundance increased in areas of human use and decreased in wolf habitat. When wolves were able to acquire more carrion, however, ravens increased in wolf habitat and decreased in areas with anthropogenic resources. Raven populations prior to the wolf reintroduction were likely more variable and heavily dependent on ungulate winter-kill and hunter-provided carcasses. The wolf recovery in Yellowstone helped stabilize raven populations by providing a regular food supply, regardless of winter severity. This stabilization has important implications for effective land management as wolves recolonize the west and global climate patterns change.

5.
Nat Ecol Evol ; 2(10): 1619-1625, 2018 10.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-30177803

RESUMO

Sexually selected weapons evolved to maximize the individual reproductive success of males in many polygynous breeding species. Many weapons are also retained outside of reproductive periods for secondary reasons, but the importance of these secondary functions is poorly understood. Here we leveraged a unique opportunity from the predator-prey system in northern Yellowstone National Park, WY, USA to evaluate whether predation by a widespread, coursing predator (wolves) has influenced a specific weapon trait (antler retention time) in their primary cervid prey (elk). Male elk face a trade-off: individuals casting antlers early begin regrowth before other males, resulting in relatively larger antlers the following year, and thus greater reproductive success, as indicated by research with red deer. We show, however, that male elk that cast their antlers early are preferentially hunted and killed by wolves, despite early casters being in better nutritional condition than antlered individuals. Our results run counter to classic expectations of coursing predators preferring poorer-conditioned individuals, and in so doing, reveal an important secondary function for an exaggerated sexually selected weapon-predatory deterrence. We suggest this secondary function played a key evolutionary role in elk; uniquely among North American cervids, they retain their antlers long after they fulfil their primary role in reproduction.


Assuntos
Chifres de Veado/fisiologia , Cervos/fisiologia , Cadeia Alimentar , Comportamento Predatório , Lobos/fisiologia , Animais , Chifres de Veado/crescimento & desenvolvimento , Cervos/crescimento & desenvolvimento , Feminino , Masculino , Parques Recreativos , Wyoming
6.
Proc Biol Sci ; 284(1848)2017 02 08.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-28179516

RESUMO

Trophic interactions are a fundamental topic in ecology, but we know little about how competition between apex predators affects predation, the mechanism driving top-down forcing in ecosystems. We used long-term datasets from Scandinavia (Europe) and Yellowstone National Park (North America) to evaluate how grey wolf (Canis lupus) kill rate was affected by a sympatric apex predator, the brown bear (Ursus arctos). We used kill interval (i.e. the number of days between consecutive ungulate kills) as a proxy of kill rate. Although brown bears can monopolize wolf kills, we found no support in either study system for the common assumption that they cause wolves to kill more often. On the contrary, our results showed the opposite effect. In Scandinavia, wolf packs sympatric with brown bears killed less often than allopatric packs during both spring (after bear den emergence) and summer. Similarly, the presence of bears at wolf-killed ungulates was associated with wolves killing less often during summer in Yellowstone. The consistency in results between the two systems suggests that brown bear presence actually reduces wolf kill rate. Our results suggest that the influence of predation on lower trophic levels may depend on the composition of predator communities.


Assuntos
Comportamento Competitivo , Comportamento Predatório , Ursidae , Lobos , Animais , Cervos , Cadeia Alimentar , América do Norte , Países Escandinavos e Nórdicos
7.
J Anim Ecol ; 81(3): 553-63, 2012 May.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-22260633

RESUMO

1. For large predators living in seasonal environments, patterns of predation are likely to vary among seasons because of related changes in prey vulnerability. Variation in prey vulnerability underlies the influence of predators on prey populations and the response of predators to seasonal variation in rates of biomass acquisition. Despite its importance, seasonal variation in predation is poorly understood. 2. We assessed seasonal variation in prey composition and kill rate for wolves Canis lupus living on the Northern Range (NR) of Yellowstone National Park. Our assessment was based on data collected over 14 winters (1995-2009) and five spring-summers between 2004 and 2009. 3. The species composition of wolf-killed prey and the age and sex composition of wolf-killed elk Cervus elaphus (the primary prey for NR wolves) varied among seasons. 4. One's understanding of predation depends critically on the metric used to quantify kill rate. For example, kill rate was greatest in summer when quantified as the number of ungulates acquired per wolf per day, and least during summer when kill rate was quantified as the biomass acquired per wolf per day. This finding contradicts previous research that suggests that rates of biomass acquisition for large terrestrial carnivores tend not to vary among seasons. 5. Kill rates were not well correlated among seasons. For example, knowing that early-winter kill rate is higher than average (compared with other early winters) provides little basis for anticipating whether kill rates a few months later during late winter will be higher or lower than average (compared with other late winters). This observation indicates how observing, for example, higher-than-average kill rates throughout any particular season is an unreliable basis for inferring that the year-round average kill rate would be higher than average. 6. Our work shows how a large carnivore living in a seasonal environment displays marked seasonal variation in predation because of changes in prey vulnerability. Patterns of wolf predation were influenced by the nutritional condition of adult elk and the availability of smaller prey (i.e. elk calves, deer). We discuss how these patterns affect our overall understanding of predator and prey population dynamics.


Assuntos
Comportamento Predatório/fisiologia , Estações do Ano , Lobos/fisiologia , Envelhecimento , Animais , Artiodáctilos , Feminino , Masculino , Fatores de Tempo
8.
PLoS One ; 6(3): e17332, 2011 Mar 01.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-21390256

RESUMO

BACKGROUND: Understanding how kill rates vary among seasons is required to understand predation by vertebrate species living in temperate climates. Unfortunately, kill rates are only rarely estimated during summer. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: For several wolf packs in Yellowstone National Park, we used pairs of collared wolves living in the same pack and the double-count method to estimate the probability of attendance (PA) for an individual wolf at a carcass. PA quantifies an important aspect of social foraging behavior (i.e., the cohesiveness of foraging). We used PA to estimate summer kill rates for packs containing GPS-collared wolves between 2004 and 2009. Estimated rates of daily prey acquisition (edible biomass per wolf) decreased from 8.4±0.9 kg (mean ± SE) in May to 4.1±0.4 kg in July. Failure to account for PA would have resulted in underestimating kill rate by 32%. PA was 0.72±0.05 for large ungulate prey and 0.46±0.04 for small ungulate prey. To assess seasonal differences in social foraging behavior, we also evaluated PA during winter for VHF-collared wolves between 1997 and 2009. During winter, PA was 0.95±0.01. PA was not influenced by prey size but was influenced by wolf age and pack size. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: Our results demonstrate that seasonal patterns in the foraging behavior of social carnivores have important implications for understanding their social behavior and estimating kill rates. Synthesizing our findings with previous insights suggests that there is important seasonal variation in how and why social carnivores live in groups. Our findings are also important for applications of GPS collars to estimate kill rates. Specifically, because the factors affecting the PA of social carnivores likely differ between seasons, kill rates estimated through GPS collars should account for seasonal differences in social foraging behavior.


Assuntos
Comportamento Predatório/fisiologia , Estações do Ano , Comportamento Social , Lobos/fisiologia , Animais , Simulação por Computador , Sistemas de Informação Geográfica , Geografia , Estados Unidos
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