Olfactory cues and the value of information : Voles interpret cues differently based on recent predator encounters
Bleicher, S. S., Ylönen, H., Käpylä, T., & Haapakoski, M. (2018). Olfactory cues and the value of information : Voles interpret cues differently based on recent predator encounters. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 72 (12), 187. doi:10.1007/s00265-018-2600-9
Published inBehavioral Ecology and Sociobiology
DisciplineEkologia ja evoluutiobiologia
© The Author(s) 2018.
Prey strategically respond to the risk of predation by varying their behavior while balancing the tradeoffs of food and safety. We present here an experiment that tests the way the same indirect cues of predation risk are interpreted by bank voles, Myodes glareolus, as the game changes through exposure to a caged weasel. Using optimal patch use, we asked wild-caught voles to rank the risk they perceived. We measured their response to olfactory cues in the form of weasel bedding, a sham control in the form of rabbit bedding, and an odor-free control. We repeated the interviews in a chronological order to test the change in response, i.e., the changes in the value of the information. We found that the voles did not differentiate strongly between treatments preexposure to the weasel. During the exposure, vole foraging activity was reduced in all treatments, but proportionally increased in the vicinity to the rabbit odor. Post-exposure, the voles focused their foraging in the control, while the value of exposure to the predator explained the majority of variation in response. Our data also suggested a sex bias in interpretation of the cues. Given how the foragers changed their interpretation of the same cues based on external information, we suggest that applying predator olfactory cues as a simulation of predation risk needs further testing. For instance, what are the possible effective compounds and how they change Bfear^ response over time. The major conclusion is that however effective olfactory cues may be, the presence of live predators overwhelmingly affects the information voles gained from these cues. ...
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