Behaviour 2019
Perceiving Potential Predators: Effects of Predation Cues on the Foraging Behavior of Peromyscus maniculatus
Michael J. Cramer. University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, Indiana, United States

Time is an essential component to understand decisions made by foragers. For species subject to constant predation pressures, proper use of time is of paramount importance. Peromyscus serve as a model system to address the effects of direct and indirect cues of predation risk on foraging behavior. I tested wild-caught P. maniculatus gracilis foraging on seeds of two maple species in the laboratory. Search time increased in trials with a direct predator cue (owl call) for both seeds, but was dependent on seed type for indirect cues (substrate: sand vs. artificial leaves). Handling time results were more complex. The effect of both direct and indirect cues of predation risk are only evident when mice are foraging on red maple seeds. Mice spent the most time opening seeds in the most dangerous situation (nearby owl in leaves). These results indicate a generalized response to the threat of predation, related to noise. In leaves, mice spent more time handling smaller seeds, presumably to reduce the amount of noise they made while foraging. As many predators use prey-generated cues to hunt, mice should attempt to reduce the amount of noise they make while finding and handling seeds.