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Am Nat. 2007 Feb;169(2):264-73. Epub 2006 Dec 20.

Use of prey hotspots by an avian predator: purposeful unpredictability?

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  • 1Department of Ecology and Organismal Biology, Indiana State University, Terre Haute, Indiana 47809, USA. troth@indstate.edu

Abstract

The use of space by predators in relation to their prey is a poorly understood aspect of predator-prey interactions. Classic theory suggests that predators should focus their efforts on areas of abundant prey, that is, prey hotspots, whereas game-theoretical models of predator and prey movement suggest that the distribution of predators should match that of their prey's resources. If, however, prey are spatially anchored to one location and these prey have particularly strong antipredator responses that make them difficult to capture with frequent attacks, then predators may be forced to adopt alternative movement strategies to hunt behaviorally responsive prey. We examined the movement patterns of bird-eating sharp-shinned hawks (Accipiter striatus) in an attempt to shed light on hotspot use by predators. Our results suggest that these hawks do not focus on prey hotspots such as bird feeders but instead maintain much spatial and temporal unpredictability in their movements. Hawks seldom revisited the same area, and the few frequently used areas were revisited in a manner consistent with unpredictable returns, giving prey little additional information about risk.

PMID:
17211809
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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