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

Adrian M. Shrader, Joel S. Brown, Graham I.H. Kerley, Burt P. Kotler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

86 Scopus citations

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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1811-1819
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Arid Environments
Volume72
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2008

Keywords

  • Feeding effort
  • Giving-up density
  • Landscape use
  • Predation risk

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Earth-Surface Processes

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