COS 48-3: Risk management in optimal foragers: The effect of sightlines on the vigilance and apprehension of foraging gerbils Academic Article uri icon


  • Interactions between behaviourally responsive prey and predators are often games. In these games predators try to manage fear; prey individuals try to reduce predation risk while trying to maximise their food intake. One such foraging game exists between gerbils and their predators in the Negev Desert of southern Israel. Here, gerbils manage the trade-off between food and safety using behavioral tools that include time allocation (when, where, and how long to forage), apprehension, and vigilance. Theory tells us that the optimal level of a forager's vigilance is affected by its encounter rate with predator and the effectiveness of its vigilance. We tested these predictions for gerbils at risk of predation from barn owls or foxes in a large vivarium. In particular, we reduced the effectiveness of vigilance by placing obstructions around feeding trays that blocked sight lines along either the vertical …

publication date

  • January 1, 2008