International Programme for Scientific Cooperation (PICS)
January 2019 – December 2021
Predation is a strong evolutionary force, and virtually all species have evolved behavioural and physiological responses to reduce predation risk, so that prey benefit from increased fitness despite the fact that these responses carry costs. These costs are the mechanisms underlying the non-consumptive effects of predation, which have been shown to be ecologically important, and sometimes as great as consumptive effects. These costs most often arise from a reduction in foraging (foraging-safety trade-offs), or from the mounting of a stress response that can have deleterious effects on the long run. However, there are currently no theory to predict and explain when and why one type of response, or the two, would be observed.
Creel (2018) recently proposed the ‘control of risk’ (COR) hypothesis, predicting that “proactive responses to predictable and controllable aspects of risk will generally have food-mediated costs, while reactive responses to unpredictable or uncontrollable aspects of predation risk will generally have stress-mediated costs”. This hypothesis allow explaining the diversity of responses observed, and sometimes apparent contradictions. However, as stated by Creel himself, “strong tests of the COR hypothesis will require more studies of responses to natural variation in predation risk and the physiological consequences of these responses”.
In this project associating two behavioural ecologists, one ecophysiologist, a PhD student and undergraduate students, the scientists will test the ‘control of risk’ hypothesis proposed by Creel (2018, Ecol. Lett.) to explain the variability in nature and strength of costs of antipredator responses.
They will test the hypothesis using field observations and experiments on ungulates in South African reserves, and organize an international workshop on the topic that will serve as a mid-term review of the hypothesis, as a course for students, and provide future research directions.
- Mammal Research Institute, University of Pretoria
- Centre d’Ecologie Fonctionnelle et Evolutive (CEFE)
Coordination scientifique : Simon Chamaillé-Jammes (CEFE)