Title of Oral/Poster Presentation

Wolf hunting activity and the changing landscape of fear for elk in northern Yellowstone.

Presenter Information

Michel KohlFollow
Dan MacNultyFollow

Class

Article

Department

Wildland Resources

Faculty Mentor

Dan MacNutty

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation

Abstract

Predator activity schedules are a fundamental ecological process; however prey response to these schedules is rarely examined. As a result, our understanding on how the interaction between spatial and temporal risk influences prey anti-predator response is limited, particularly in large-scale, natural systems. Across these spatio-temporal axes, predation risk is continuously changing, thus the sensitivity of anti-predator response should be related to the magnitude of predation risk. We used a novel analysis of fine-scale wolf (Canis lupus) hunting behavior and four variations in spatial predation risk to evaluate the influence of wolves on elk (Cervus elaphus) habitat selection in Yellowstone National Park. Contrary to popular belief, elk demonstrate weak, positive selection for high risk sites. Only when wolf hunting activity was high (~17% of the day) did elk avoid risky sites. Furthermore, elk demonstrated risk sensitivity in both space and time through nonlinear anti-predator responses, demonstrating the importance that spatio-temporal predation risk may have on anti-predator responses.

Start Date

4-9-2015 9:00 AM

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Apr 9th, 9:00 AM

Wolf hunting activity and the changing landscape of fear for elk in northern Yellowstone.

Predator activity schedules are a fundamental ecological process; however prey response to these schedules is rarely examined. As a result, our understanding on how the interaction between spatial and temporal risk influences prey anti-predator response is limited, particularly in large-scale, natural systems. Across these spatio-temporal axes, predation risk is continuously changing, thus the sensitivity of anti-predator response should be related to the magnitude of predation risk. We used a novel analysis of fine-scale wolf (Canis lupus) hunting behavior and four variations in spatial predation risk to evaluate the influence of wolves on elk (Cervus elaphus) habitat selection in Yellowstone National Park. Contrary to popular belief, elk demonstrate weak, positive selection for high risk sites. Only when wolf hunting activity was high (~17% of the day) did elk avoid risky sites. Furthermore, elk demonstrated risk sensitivity in both space and time through nonlinear anti-predator responses, demonstrating the importance that spatio-temporal predation risk may have on anti-predator responses.