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How well do predators adjust to climate-mediated shifts in prey distribution? A study on Australian water pythons

Ujvari, Beata, Shine, Richard and Madsen, Thomas 2011, How well do predators adjust to climate-mediated shifts in prey distribution? A study on Australian water pythons, Ecology, vol. 92, no. 3, pp. 1858-1864, doi: 10.1890/10-1471.1.

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Title How well do predators adjust to climate-mediated shifts in prey distribution? A study on Australian water pythons
Author(s) Ujvari, BeataORCID iD for Ujvari, Beata orcid.org/0000-0003-2391-2988
Shine, Richard
Madsen, Thomas
Journal name Ecology
Volume number 92
Issue number 3
Start page 1858
End page 1864
Total pages 7
Publisher Ecological Society of America
Place of publication Ithaca, NY
Publication date 2011
ISSN 0012-9658
Keyword(s) climate change
dusky rats
extreme climatic events
liasis fuscus
predator-prey demography
rattus colletti
spacial heterogeneity
tropical australia
vagile species
water pythons
Summary Climate change can move the spatial location of resources critical for population viability, and a species' resilience to such changes will depend upon its ability to flexibly shift its activities away from no-longer-suitable sites to exploit new opportunities. Intuition suggests that vagile predators should be able to track spatial shifts in prey availability, but our data on water pythons (Liasis fuscus) in tropical Australia suggest a less encouraging scenario. These pythons undergo regular long-range (to >10 km) seasonal migrations to follow flooding-induced migrations by their prey (native dusky rats, Rattus colletti). However, when an extreme flooding event virtually eliminated rats for a three-year period, the local pythons did not disperse despite the presence of abundant rats only 8 km away; instead, many pythons starved to death. This inflexibility suggests that some vagile species that track seasonally migrating prey may do so by responding to habitat attributes that have consistently predicted prey availability over evolutionary time, rather than reacting to proximate cues that signal the presence of prey per se. A species' vulnerability to climate change will be increased by an inability to shift its activities away from historical sites toward newly favorable areas.
Language eng
DOI 10.1890/10-1471.1
Field of Research 069999 Biological Sciences not elsewhere classified
Socio Economic Objective 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences
HERDC Research category C2.1 Other contribution to refereed journal
Copyright notice ©2011, Ecological Society of America
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30063813

Document type: Journal Article
Collections: Open Access Collection
Centre for Integrative Ecology
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Every reasonable effort has been made to ensure that permission has been obtained for items included in DRO. If you believe that your rights have been infringed by this repository, please contact drosupport@deakin.edu.au.