Do free-ranging domestic goats show 'landscapes of fear'? Patch use in response to habitat features and predator cues Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • One factor that influences foraging is predation risk. As a result, herbivores may not use landscapes uniformly due to spatial differences in perceived predation risk. Wild herbivores forage across these ‘landscapes of fear’; however, the extent to which domestic herbivores consider them is generally unknown. Using a grid of artificial food patches and measuring giving up densities (GUDs), we mapped landscapes of fear of free-ranging domestic goats on three substrates. In the first experiment, we related GUDs to landscape variables. Goats preferred feeding in open ground with firm substrate compared to a sandy riverbed or a rocky hillside. We suggest that differences relate to escape potential and the occurrence of ambush sites. Landscape variables that influenced feeding effort were patch visibility and plants next to a patch. In a second experiment, we increased predation risk by adding predator dung and urine into the habitats. In response, feeding effort declined across all three habitats. Furthermore, goats only responded to patch visibility and not plants next to the patches. Better sightlines increase predator detection and allow individuals to see group members. Our results indicate that predation risk influences the extent to which free-ranging domestic herbivores utilise landscapes.

publication date

  • January 1, 2008