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Cheetahs modify their prey handling behavior depending on risks from top predators

Hilborn, A; Pettorelli, N; Caro, T; Kelly, MJ; Laurenson, K; Durant, SM; (2018) Cheetahs modify their prey handling behavior depending on risks from top predators. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology , 72 , Article 74. 10.1007/s00265-018-2481-y. Green open access

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Abstract

While handling large kills, mesocarnivores are particularly vulnerable to kleptoparasitism and predation from larger predators. We used 35 years of observational data on cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) hunts in Serengeti National Park to investigate whether cheetahs’ prey handling behavior varied in response to threats from lions (Panthera leo) and spotted hyenas (Crocuta crocuta). Male cheetahs and single females, whose main threat was kleptoparasitism, minimized time on the kill by being less vigilant and eating quickly, thereby shortening their handling times. Mothers with cubs showed a different strategy that prioritized vigilance over speed of eating, which increased time spent handling prey. Vigilance allowed them to minimize the risk of their cubs being killed while giving cubs the time they need to eat at the carcass. Flexible behavioral strategies that minimize individual risk while handling prey likely allow mesocarnivores to coexist with numerous and widespread apex predators.

Type: Article
Title: Cheetahs modify their prey handling behavior depending on risks from top predators
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1007/s00265-018-2481-y
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00265-018-2481-y
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Predator-prey interactions, Foraging behavior, Behavioral flexibility, Carnivore coexistence
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Div of Biosciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Div of Biosciences > Genetics, Evolution and Environment
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10045246
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