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The influence of daily variation in foraging cost on the activity of small carnivoresAuthor(s): William J. Zielinski
Source: Animal Behavior 36:239-249
Publication Series: Miscellaneous Publication
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DescriptionThe daily activity of some predators is correlated with the activity pattern of their prey. If capture efficiency varies as a function of prey activity, a predator that synchronizes its foraging activity with the time of day that prey are most vulnerable should capture more prey, and at lower cost, than a predator that initiates foraging at random. Mink, Mustela vison, and weasels, M. erminea and M. nivalis, were presented with an opportunity to maximize their intake in similar circumstances in the laboratory. An animal's ability to synchronize its foraging activity with the time of day when food was most available was tested. Energy costs (wheel revolutions) were varied to encourage an animal to redistribute its activity from a preferred 12-h phase of the light-dark cycle to the other phase, and then back again. The degree to which activity changed to coincide with the most economical phase was analysed for each individual, and weasels were compared to mink. The activity of six (of seven) animals shifted in response to modified foraging costs, but only two animals (both mink) approached the 180° redistribution of activity expected of an energy-maximizing forager. In general, all animals were active during a favoured phase (usually dark) of the light-dark cycle and relatively large variations in foraging cost during this cycle had only modest effects on activity .
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CitationZielinski, William J. 1988. The influence of daily variation in foraging cost on the activity of small carnivores. Animal Behavior 36:239-249
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