To dare or not to dare? Risk management by owls in a predator-prey foraging game Academic Article uri icon


  • In a foraging game, predators must catch elusive prey while avoiding injury. Predators manage their hunting success with behavioral tools such as habitat selection, time allocation, and perhaps daring—the willingness to risk injury to increase hunting success. A predator's level of daring should be state dependent: the hungrier it is, the more it should be willing to risk injury to better capture prey. We ask, in a foraging game, will a hungry predator be more willing to risk injury while hunting? We performed an experiment in an outdoor vivarium in which barn owls (Tyto alba) were allowed to hunt Allenby's gerbils (Gerbillus andersoni allenbyi) from a choice of safe and risky patches. Owls were either well fed or hungry, representing the high and low state, respectively. We quantified the owls' patch use behavior. We predicted that hungry owls would be more daring and allocate more time to …

publication date

  • January 1, 2014