Little to fear: largest lizard predator induces weak defense responses in ungulate prey

Jessop, Timothy S., Ariefiandy, Achmad, Purwandana, Deni, Benu, Yunias Jackson, Hyatt, Matthew and Letnic, Mike 2019, Little to fear: largest lizard predator induces weak defense responses in ungulate prey, Behavioral ecology, vol. 30, no. 3, May/June, pp. 624-636, doi: 10.1093/beheco/ary200.

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Title Little to fear: largest lizard predator induces weak defense responses in ungulate prey
Author(s) Jessop, Timothy S.ORCID iD for Jessop, Timothy S.
Ariefiandy, Achmad
Purwandana, Deni
Benu, Yunias Jackson
Hyatt, Matthew
Letnic, Mike
Journal name Behavioral ecology
Volume number 30
Issue number 3
Season May/June
Start page 624
End page 636
Total pages 13
Publisher Oxford University Press
Place of publication Oxford, Eng.
Publication date 2019-05
ISSN 1045-2249
Keyword(s) apex predator
predator–prey interactions
nonconsumptive effects
Summary Nonconsumptive effects can strongly influence apex predator ecological function. These effects arise because prey often induce costly phenotypic responses to mitigate predation risk. Yet because predator–prey interactions are complex, prey defenses may vary considerably. We investigated if the Komodo dragon (Varanus komodoensis), a reptile apex predator, induced multiscale antipredator responses in key prey, the Rusa deer (Cervus timorensis) and the wild pig (Sus scrofa). To this end, we examined the temporal and spatial partitioning of habitats by predator and prey, determined the size of ungulate groups as a function of risk, and assessed changes in individual behavior of prey individuals exposed to predator kairomones at feeding stations. Komodo dragon, deer, and pig populations exhibited significant, but subtle differences in 3 habitat preferences that otherwise indicated high niche overlap. Komodo dragon predation risk, alongside other commonly considered predictor variables, did not affect deer or pig group size. With the exception of one individual-based vigilance-type behavior in pigs, no other antipredator behavior, including reduced food consumption, significantly varied in the presence of predator odor cue at feeding stations. Overall, our results indicated limited evidence for antipredator behavior and suggested Komodo dragons exert weak nonconsumptive effects of predation in ungulates. However, weak predatory interactions could be beneficial in island ecosystems as it could promote predator–prey coexistence that reduces extinction risk.
Language eng
DOI 10.1093/beheco/ary200
Indigenous content off
Field of Research 0602 Ecology
0603 Evolutionary Biology
0608 Zoology
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
ERA Research output type C Journal article
Copyright notice ©2019, The Author(s)
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