Responses of Prey to the Presence of Predators in a Fragmented Landscape with Corridors

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Title: Responses of Prey to the Presence of Predators in a Fragmented Landscape with Corridors
Author: Brinkerhoff, Robert Jory
Advisors: Nick M. Haddad, Chair
James F. Gilliam, Member
Kenneth H. Pollock, Member
Abstract: Corridors have been shown to serve as movement conduits for a wide variety of species, though their effects on interspecific interactions have been largely unstudied. I designed a replicated experiment to investigate corridor-mediated prey responses to predators in a network of open habitat patches surrounded by a matrix of planted pine forest. I used mark-recapture studies and foraging trays to monitor the movements and behaviors of several small mammal species. The presence of predators was artificially manipulated in half of my replicates by applying bobcat urine to specific patches. I then compared the movements of small mammals and changes in foraging activity in the treated and untreated replicates, and tested how corridors affected behaviors and population sizes. I found significant differences in foraging activity between patches treated with predator urine and patches to which they were connected, whereas I found no differences in foraging activity in unconnected patches adjacent to treated patches. Movements detected by mark-recapture were too infrequent for analysis, but were proportionally consistent with previous results showing corridor effects on movement. There were no significant differences in small mammal abundances between connected and unconnected patches. These results suggest that corridors do facilitate movement between habitat patches and prey will preferentially use corridors to forage in patches with reduced predation risk. However, the corridors in this study had no apparent affect on long-term displacement of small mammals.
Date: 2002-04-12
Degree: MS
Discipline: Zoology

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