Advertisement

Seasonal Responses to Predator Faecal Odours in Australian Native Rodents Vary Between Species

  • R. Andrew Hayes

Abstract

Small mammals are subject to predation from mammalian, avian and reptilian predators. There is an obvious advantage for prey species to detect the presence of predators in their environment, enabling them to make decisions about movement and foraging behavior based on perceived risk of predation. One technique commonly exploited to assess this risk is to use the odours of the faeces and/or urine of their predators to determine presence/absence and the length of time since a predator passed through an area. I examined the effect of faecal odours from marsupial and eutherian predators, and a native reptilian predator, on the behavior of three endemic Australian rodent species (the Fawn-footed Melomys Melomys cervinipes, the Bush Rat Rattus fuscipes and the Giant White-tailed Rat Uromys caudimaculatus) in rainforest remnants on the Atherton Tableland, North Queensland, Australia. Infrared camera traps were used to assess visit rates of rodents to odour stations containing faecal and control odours. Rodents avoided odour stations containing predator faeces, but did not avoid herbivore or control odours. The responses of the three prey species differed: in the late wet season U. caudimaculatus avoided predator odours, while R. fuscipes and M. cervinipes did not. In contrast, in the late dry season all three species avoided odour stations containing predator odours. I speculate that these differential responses may result from variations in life history traits between the species.

Keywords

Odour Source Camera Trap Predator Odour Root Vole Tasmanian Devil 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Reference

  1. Apfelbach, R., Blanchard, D. C., Blanchard, R. J., Hayes, R. A. and McGregor, I. S. (2005) The effects of predator odors in mammalian prey species: A review of field and laboratory studies. Neurosci. Biobehav. Rev. 29, 1123–1144PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Banks, P. B., Hughes, N. K. and Rose, T. A. (2003) Do native Australian small mammals avoid faeces of domestic dogs? Responses of Rattus fuscipes and Antechinus stuartii. Aust. Zool. 32, 406–409.Google Scholar
  3. Borowski, Z. (1998) Influence of weasel (Mustela nivalis Linneaus, 1776) odour on spatial behaviour of root voles (Microtus oeconomus Pallas, 1776). Can. J. Zool. 76, 1799–1804.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Borowski, Z. (2002) Individual and seasonal differences in antipredatory behaviour of root voles - a field experiment. Can. J. Zool. 80, 1520–1525.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bramley, G. N. and Waas, J. R. (2001) Laboratory and field evaluation of predator odors as repellents for kiore (Rattus exulans) and ship rats (Rattus rattus). J. Chem. Ecol. 27, 1029–1047.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Burnett, S. (2001) Ecology and conservation status of the northern spot-tailed quoll, dasyurus maculatus, with reference to the future of Australia’s marsupial carnivores. PhD thesis, James Cook University, Townsville, Australia.Google Scholar
  7. Butler, W. H. (1969) Remains of Sarcophilus the “Tasmanian” devil (Marsupialia, Dasyuridae) from coastal dunes south of Scott River, Western Australia. West. Aust. Nat. 11, 87–88.Google Scholar
  8. Calaby, J. H. and Lewis, D. J. (1977) The Tasmanian devil in Arnhem Land rock art. Mankind 11, 150–151.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Calaby, J. H. and White, C. (1967) The Tasmanian devil (Sarcophilus harrisi) in Northern Australia in recent times. Aust. J. Sci. 29, 473–475.Google Scholar
  10. Catarell, M. and Chanel, R. (1979) Influence of some biologically meaningful odorants in the vigilance state of the rat. Physiol. Behav. 23, 831–838.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Cogger, H. G. (1994) Reptiles and Amphibians of Australia. Reed Books, Sydney.Google Scholar
  12. Corbett, L. K. (1995) The Dingo in Australia and Asia. UNSW Press Kensington NSW.Google Scholar
  13. Covacevich J. and Easton A. (1974) Rats and mice in QueenslandEds.. Queensland Museum, Brisbane.Google Scholar
  14. Dawson, L. (1982) Taxonomic status of fossil devils (Sarcophilus, Dasyuridae, Marsupialia) from late Quaternary eastern Australian localities. In: Apfelbach, M. Archer (Eds.), Carnivorous Marsupials. Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales, Sydney, pp. 517–525.Google Scholar
  15. Dickman, C. R. (1992) Predation and habitat shift in the house mouse, Mus domesticus. Ecol. 73, 313–322.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Dickman, C. R. (1993) Raiders of the last ark: cats in inland Australia. Aust. Nat. Hist. 24, 44–52.Google Scholar
  17. Dickman, C. R. and Doncaster, C. P. (1984) Responses of small mammals to red fox (Vulpes vulpes) odour. J. Zool. Lond. 204, 521–531.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Hayes, R. A., Nahrung, H. F. and Wilson, J. C. (2006) The response of native Australian rodents to predator odours varies seasonally: a by-product of life-history variations? Anim. Behav. 71, 1307–1314.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Horton, D. R. (1977) A 10,000-year-old Sarcophilus from Cape York. Search 10, 374–375.Google Scholar
  20. Jones, M. E., Rose, R. K. and Burnett, S. (2001) Dasyurus maculatus. Mammal. Spec. 676, 1–9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Kats, L. B. and Dill, L. M. (1998) The scent of death: chemosensory assessment of predation risk by prey animals. Ecosci. 5, 361–394.Google Scholar
  22. Kruuk, H. and Jarman, P. J. (1995) Latrine use by the spotted-tailed quoll (Dasyurus maculatus: Dasyuridae, Marsupialis) in its natural habitat. J. Zool. Lond. 236, 345–349.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Laing, D. G., Panhuber, H. and Slotnick, B. M. (1989) Odor masking in the rat. Physiol. Behav. 45, 689–694.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Lunney, D. (1995) Bush rat. Rattus fuscipes. In: R. Strahan (Eds.), The Mammals of Australia. Reed Books, Sydney, pp. 651–653.Google Scholar
  25. Mappes, T., Koskela, E. and Ylonen, H. (1998) Breeding suppression in the bank vole under predation risk of small mustelids: laboratory or methodological artifact? Oikos 82, 365–369.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Moore, L. A. (1995) Giant white-tailed rat. Uromys caudimaculatus. In: R. Strahan (Eds.), The Mammals of Australia. Reed Books, Sydney, pp. 638–640.Google Scholar
  27. Moran, M. D. (2003) Arguments for rejecting the sequential Bonferroni in ecological studies. Oikos 100, 403–405.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Müller-Schwarze, D. (1972) The responses of young black-tailed deer to predator odors. J. Mammal. 53, 393–394.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Nolte, D. L., Mason, J. R., Epple, G., Aronov, E. and Campbell, D. L. (1994) Why are predator urines aversive to prey? J. Chem. Ecol. 20, 1505–1516.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Redhead, T. D. (1995) Fawn-footed melomys. Melomys cervinipes. In: R. Strahan (Eds.), The Mammals of Australia. Reed Books, Sydney, pp. 636–637.Google Scholar
  31. Seelke, A. M. H. and Blumberg, M. S. (2004) Sniffing in infant rats during sleep and wakefulness. Behav. Neurosci. 118, 267–273.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Strahan, R. (1995) The Mammals of Australia. Reed Books, Sydney.Google Scholar
  33. Sullivan, T. P., Nordstrom, L. O. and Sullivan, D. S. (1985) Use of predator odors as repellents to reduce feeding damage by herbivores. I. Snowshoe hares (Lepus americanus). J. Chem. Ecol. 11, 903–919.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Tracey, J. G. (1982) The Vegetation of the Humid Tropical Region of North Queensland. CSIRO, Melbourne.Google Scholar
  35. Vernes, K., Dennis, A. and Winter, J. (2001) Mammalian diet and broad hunting strategy of the dingo (Canis familiarus dingo) in the Wet Tropical Rain Forests of northeastern Australia. Biotrop. 33, 339–345.Google Scholar
  36. Watts, C. H. S. and Aslin, H. J. (1981) The rodents of Australia. Angus and Robertson, Sydney.Google Scholar
  37. Wolff, J. O. and Davis-Born, R. (1997) Response of gray-tailed voles to odours of a mustelid predator: a field test. Oikos 79, 543–548.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Zar, J. H. (1999) Biostatistical Analysis. Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, NJ.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media,LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. Andrew Hayes
    • 1
  1. 1.Queensland University of Technology, School of Natural Resource Sciences, University of Queensland, Institute for Molecular BioscienceAustralia

Personalised recommendations