Behavioral responses of animals to direct predator cues (DPC; e. g. urine) are common
and may improve their survival. We investigated wild meerkat (Suricata suricatta) responses
to DPCs by taking an experimental approach. When meerkats encounter a DPC they often
recruit group members by emitting a call type, which causes the group members to interrupt
foraging and approach the caller. The aim of this study was to identify the qualities of
olfactory predator cues, which affect the strength of response by meerkats, and determine the
benefits of responses to such cues. Experimental exposure to dog (Canis lupus) urine as a
DPC revealed that the recruited individuals increased vigilance to fresh urine in comparison to
older urine, whereas a higher quantity of urine did not induce such an effect. Both freshness
and higher quantities increased the proportion of group members recruited. These results indicate that recruitment might play a crucial role in correctly assessing the current level of
danger and that recruiting might facilitate group decision-making. To test the prediction that
the reaction to a DPC enhances early predator response, we presented a DPC of a predator and
a control cue of a herbivore, and each time simultaneously moved a full-mounted caracal
(Caracal caracal) in the vicinity of the group. Meerkats responded earlier to the caracal when
the DPC was presented, indicating that the response to a DPC facilitates predator response
and that they use information from the cue that reliably reflects the risk in the current
Living under predation risk may alter both behaviour and physiology of potential prey. In extreme cases, such alterations may have serious demographic consequences, and recent studies support that non-lethal effects of ...
Due to the strong individual cost of being predated, potential prey species alter their
behavior and physiology in response to predation risk. Such alterations may cause major
indirect consequences on prey populations ...
Courbin, Nicolas; Loveridge, Andrew J.; Fritz, Hervé; Macdonald, David W.; Patin, Rémi; Valeix, Marion; Chamaillé-Jammes, Simon(Wiley, 2019-01)
1. Diel migrations (DM; back and forth diel movements along an ecological gradient) undertaken by prey to avoid predators during the day have been demonstrated in many taxa in aquatic ecosystems. In terrestrial ecosystems, ...