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Anim Behav. 2000 Jul;60(1):121-130.

Predator avoidance, breeding experience and reproductive success in endangered cheetahs, Acinonyx jubatus.

Author information

1
Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society of London

Abstract

I examine three hypotheses about predator avoidance behaviour: (1) avoidance increases an individual's reproductive success; (2) avoidance changes with breeding experience according to one of three described models; and (3) any reproductive or experience benefits accrued to individuals by avoidance are reflected in their spatial distribution. These hypotheses were tested on cheetahs which incur substantial juvenile mortality from predation by two larger competitors: spotted hyaenas, Crocuta crocuta, and lions, Panthera leo. To examine avoidance tactics, I played lion and hyaena vocalizations to individual female cheetahs. Lion avoidance increased with the statistical interaction between age and reproductive success, suggesting that it may be a learned behaviour, reinforced by successful reproductive events. This behaviour translated into a nonrandom spatial distribution of cheetahs with the most reproductively successful females found near lower lion densities than less successful females. Hyaena avoidance decreased with the interaction between age and reproductive success, suggesting that it is diminished by successful reproductive events, perhaps because a female cheetah switches from avoidance to using antipredator behaviours as she gets older. Hyaena avoidance behaviour translated into a spatial distribution with the most reproductively successful females found near lower hyaena densities than less successful females; however, younger females were found near lower hyaena densities than older females.

PMID:
10924211
DOI:
10.1006/anbe.2000.1433

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