Effect of predation risk on selectivity in heteromyid rodents
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Variations in predation risk affect the costs of foraging and may therefore warrant different foraging decisions. One class of models ("higher requisite profit") predicts that foragers should become more selective when predation risk increases, as low-profitability items that do not cover the increased costs are dropped from the diet. An alternative class of models ("reduced finickiness") predicts that foragers should become less selective when predation risk increases, because selectivity requires more extensive assessment and/or search behaviour, prolonging exposure to risk. We assessed the selectivity of foraging heteromyid rodents (Merriam's kangaroo rats, Dipodomys merriami, and pocket mice, Chaetodipus spp.) by comparing differences in "giving up densities" (GUD: the quantity of cryptic food left in a patch by animals for whom the diminishing marginal gains from foraging have dropped below the threshold for continued search) for foods of different value as a measure of selectivity in patches varying in predation risk. Data collected over two field seasons revealed that heteromyids were more selective when predation risk was highest; away from the protective cover of shrubs during the full moon. These findings support the predictions of higher requisite profit models.
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