Attention, 'apprehension' and gerbils searching in patches

S. R.X. Dall, B. P. Kotler, A. Bouskila

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations


In this paper, we consider the attentional demands associated with detecting and responding to predators, or 'apprehension', and the within-patch search of Allenby's gerbils, Gerbillus andersoni allenbyi. We, thus, present a first empirical investigation of the indirect, informational consequences of perceived predation risk. Specifically, we focus on the ability to track the quality of seed patches in sandy habitats. There are two potential effects here; since instantaneous intake rate (or some proxy) is the key parameter of interest to an optimal forager, apprehension can interfere with the estimation of: (1) the number of food items captured, and/or (2) the time taken to capture them (the ability to locate food items). Only (2) will have a consistent effect on patch quality, and we test the hypothesis that increased predation risk reduces gerbil search efficiency. We therefore quantified gerbil search paths in patches of uniform seed distribution that differed in their associated risks of predation by manipulating the presence of barn owls, Tyto alba, and light in an aviary. Gerbil search was more random under risky conditions. We discuss the implications of this result for information processing and patch use under predation risk, and the foraging games between gerbils and owls in the Negev Desert.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15-23
Number of pages9
JournalAnnales Zoologici Fennici
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2001
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


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