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Mass regulation in response to predation risk can indicate population declines

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Author(s)

R Macleod, J Lind, J Clark, Will Cresswell

School/Research organisations

Abstract

In theory, survival rates and consequent population status might be predictable from instantaneous behavioural measures of how animals prioritize foraging vs. avoiding predation. We show, for the 30 most common small bird species ringed in the UK, that one quarter respond to higher predation risk as if it is mass-dependent and lose mass. Half respond to predation risk as if it only interrupts their foraging and gain mass thus avoiding consequent increased starvation risk from reduced foraging time. These mass responses to higher predation risk are correlated with population and conservation status both within and between species (and independently of foraging habitat, foraging guild, sociality index and size) over the last 30 years in Britain, with mass loss being associated with declining populations and mass gain with increasing populations. If individuals show an interrupted foraging response to higher predation risk, they are likely to be experiencing a high quality foraging environment that should lead to higher survival. Whereas individuals that show a mass-dependent foraging response are likely to be in lower quality foraging environments, leading to relatively lower survival.

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)945-955
Number of pages11
JournalEcology Letters
Volume10
Issue number10
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2007

    Research areas

  • interrupted foraging, mass-dependent predation risk, starvation risk, BLACKCAPS SYLVIA-ATRICAPILLA, BLACKBIRDS TURDUS-MERULA, FAT RESERVES, BODY-MASS, SPATIAL AUTOCORRELATION, FITNESS CONSEQUENCES, HABITAT SELECTION, FORAGING BEHAVIOR, DECISION-MAKING, PARUS-MAJOR

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