Date of Award
feeding behavior, chemical cues, snowshoe hare, coyote, vegetation
Prey avoid chemical cues from predators at feeding sites because the risk of death outweighs the benefit of food. However, we lack information regarding avoidance of chemical cues from competitors as well as how foraging behavior changes alongside vegetative cover. To test if chemical cues and vegetative cover alter prey vigilance, number of visits, and time spent at feeding sites, I observed snowshoe hares (Lepus americanus) in plots containing coyote (Canis latrans; predator) and moose (Alces alces; competitor) urine across a spectrum of vegetation densities. Snowshoe hares significantly reduced the number of visits to feeding plots when coyote or moose urine was administered. In plots containing coyote urine, number of visits decreased significantly as plots became more densely vegetated. Neither chemical cues nor vegetation density had a large effect on snowshoe hare vigilance or time spent in plots. These results suggest that competition between snowshoe hares and moose has selected for an avoidance response. This study also reinforces the idea that an increase in vegetation density could prove disadvantageous to prey, perhaps because sit-and-wait predators use dense vegetation to stalk and ambush while on the hunt.
Lankist, Zachary, "Influence of indirect cues and vegetation density on foraging behavior in snowshoe hares (Lepus americanus)" (2019). Thinking Matters Symposium. 193.