Uniform predation risk in nature: common, inconspicuous, and a source of error to predation risk experiments

Jorge F.S. Menezes, Burt P. Kotler, Guilherme M. Mourão

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Previous studies indicate that when predation risk is uniform across habitats, foragers concentrate their exploitation in fewer patches. Although uniform predation risk may seem rare in nature, some scenarios might cause it. Testing all scenarios in a single experiment is unfeasible; therefore, we developed a model that points whether concentration of exploitation in specific habitats due to uniform risk requires parameter values similar to what is found in literature. This model was based on Brown’s (Behav Ecol Sociobiol 22:37–47, 1988) fitness function but rescaled to multiple habitats and predators, including uniform risk predators. Deriving function’s maximum allowed comparisons with giving-up density studies. Results showed that uniform predation risk had a u-shaped effect in habitat exploitation, causing a concentration of habitat exploitation at probabilities of survival from 0.2 to 0.8. However, the length of this interval and degree of concentration depended on the value of safety to forager fitness. Heterogeneous, nonuniform, predation risk decreases habitat exploitation where it was higher, therefore suppressing the effect of uniform risk on prey behavior. Time spent in the focal habitat and metabolic costs reduced the detectability of habitat concentration, while total time did not. We also found that uniform risk reduced accuracy of heterogeneous risk measurements. Future studies should aim to control all possible predators, as even the mild ones can induce complex behavior.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1809-1818
Number of pages10
JournalBehavioral Ecology and Sociobiology
Issue number11
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2014


  • Giving-up density
  • Habitat scale
  • Multiple predators
  • Quitting harvest rate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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