Skip to content

Research at St Andrews

How starvation risk in Redshanks results in predation mortality from Sparrowhawks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Author(s)

Will Cresswell, DP Whitfield

School/Research organisations

Abstract

Redshanks Tringa totanus that are preyed upon by Sparrowhawks Accipiter nisus at the Tyninghame Estuary, Firth of Forth, Scotland, provide an example of how the starvation-predation risk trade-off results in mortality. In this trade-off, animals cannot always optimize anti-predation behaviour because anti-predation behaviours, such as avoiding predators, are usually incompatible with foraging behaviours that might maximize intake rates. Therefore, as animals compensate for starvation risk, predation risk increases. Sparrowhawks are the main direct cause of death in Redshanks at Tyninghame. Sparrowhawk attack rate is determined by Redshank vulnerability, and vulnerability decreases as group size and distance to cover increase, and probably as spacing decreases. But reduction of predation vulnerability reduces feeding rate because areas away from cover are less food-profitable and grouping results in increased interference competition. Increased starvation risk in midwinter means Redshanks are forced to feed on highly profitable prey, Orchestia amphipods, the behaviour of which means that Redshanks are forced to feed vulnerably, in widely spaced groups, close to predator-concealing cover. Therefore, it is the constraints that limit the ability of Redshanks to feed in large, dense flocks away from cover that ultimately lead to mortality. We investigate this hypothesis further by testing the prediction that mortality can be predicted directly by cold weather and population density. We demonstrate that the overall number of Redshanks and the proportion of Redshanks killed increase in cold months when controlling for population size. We also demonstrate that the proportion of Redshanks killed increases when there are fewer Redshanks present, because the success rate of hunting Sparrowhawks increases, probably because effective management of predation risk through flocking is constrained by a low population size. Redshanks therefore provide an example of how directly mortality caused by predation arises from starvation risk and other constraints that prevent animals from optimizing anti-predation behaviour.

Close

Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)209-218
Number of pages10
JournalIbis
Volume150 S1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2008

    Research areas

  • trail-mediated interactions, non-lethal effects, starvation-predation risk trade-off, RAPTOR PREDATION, TRADE-OFF, INTERFERENCE COMPETITION, SOUTHEAST SCOTLAND, FEEDING LOCATION, DECISION-MAKING, STOPOVER SITE, BEHAVIOR, FLOCKING, DANGER

Discover related content
Find related publications, people, projects and more using interactive charts.

View graph of relations

Related by author

  1. A fruit diet rather than invertebrate diet maintains a robust innate immunity in an omnivorous tropical songbird

    Nwaogu, C. J., Galema, A., Cresswell, W., Dietz, M. W. & Tieleman, B. I., 4 Nov 2019, (Accepted/In press) In : Journal of Animal Ecology.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  2. Light stalks increase the precision and accuracy of non-breeding locations calculated from geolocator tags: a field test from a long-distance migrant

    Blackburn, E., Burgess, M., Freeman, B., Riseley, A., Azang, A., Ivande, S. T., Hewson, C. & Cresswell, W., 29 Oct 2019, (Accepted/In press) In : Bird Study.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  3. Weak breeding seasonality of a songbird in a seasonally arid tropical environment arises from individual flexibility and strongly seasonal moult

    Nwaogu, C. J., Tieleman, B. I. & Cresswell, W., Jul 2019, In : Ibis. 161, 3, p. 533-545 13 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  4. Seasonal differences in baseline innate immune function are better explained by environment than annual cycle stage in a year-round breeding tropical songbird

    Nwaogu, C. J., Cresswell, W., Versteegh, M. A. & Tieleman, B. I., 8 Apr 2019, In : Journal of Animal Ecology. 88, 4, p. 537-553 17 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Related by journal

  1. Ibis (Journal)

    Will Cresswell (Reviewer)
    17 Jun 2018

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesPeer review of manuscripts

  2. Ibis (Journal)

    Will Cresswell (Reviewer)
    27 Mar 2018

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesPeer review of manuscripts

  3. Ibis (Journal)

    Christian Rutz (Editor)
    20122016

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesEditor of research journal

  4. Ibis (Journal)

    Will Cresswell (Editor)
    20052006

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesEditor of research journal

Related by journal

  1. Spring migration strategies of Whinchat Saxicola rubetra when successfully crossing potential barriers of the Sahara and the Mediterranean Sea

    Blackburn, E., Burgess, M., Freeman, B., Risely, A., Izang, A., Ivande, S., Hewson, C. & Cresswell, W., Jan 2019, In : Ibis. 161, 1, p. 131-146

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  2. Weak breeding seasonality of a songbird in a seasonally arid tropical environment arises from individual flexibility and strongly seasonal moult

    Nwaogu, C. J., Tieleman, B. I. & Cresswell, W., Jul 2019, In : Ibis. 161, 3, p. 533-545 13 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  3. Wild fledgling tits do not mob in response to conspecific or heterospecific mobbing calls

    Carlson, N. V., Healy, S. D. & Templeton, C. N., 26 Jun 2019, In : Ibis. Early View, 9 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  4. Control of invasive predators improves breeding success of an endangered alpine passerine

    Weston, K. A., O'Donnell, C. F. J., Van Dam-Bates, P. & Monks, J. M., Oct 2018, In : Ibis. 160, 4, p. 892-899

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  5. Low and annually variable migratory connectivity in a long distance migrant: Whinchats Saxicola rubetra may show a bet-hedging strategy

    Blackburn, E., Burgess, M., Freeman, B., Risely, A., Izang, A., Ivande, S., Hewson, C. & Cresswell, W., Oct 2017, In : Ibis. 159, 4, p. 902-918

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

ID: 399133

Top