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Analyzing the proximity to cover in a landscape of fear: a new approach applied to fine-scale habitat use by rabbits facing feral cat predation on Kerguelen archipelago

Abstract : Although proximity to cover has been routinely considered as an explanatory variablein studies investigating prey behavioral adjustments to predation pressure, the wayit shapes risk perception still remains equivocal. This paradox arises from both theambivalent nature of cover as potentially both obstructive and protective, making itsimpact on risk perception complex and context-dependent, and from the choice of theproxy used to measure proximity to cover in the field, which leads to an incompletepicture of the landscape of fear experienced by the prey. Here, we study a simplepredator-prey-habitat system, i.e., rabbitsOryctolagus cuniculusfacing feral catFeliscatuspredation on Kerguelen archipelago. We assess how cover shapes risk perceptionin prey and develop an easily implementable field method to improve the estimationof proximity to cover. In contrast to protocols considering the ‘‘distance to nearestcover’’, we focus on the overall ‘‘area to cover’’. We show that fine-scale habitat use byrabbits is clearly related to our measure, in accordance with our hypothesis of higher riskin patches with smaller area to cover in this predator-prey-habitat system. In contrast,classical measures of proximity to cover are not retained in the best predictive models ofhabitat use. The use of this new approach, together with a more in-depth considerationof contrasting properties of cover, could help to better understand the role of thiscomplex yet decisive parameter for predator-prey ecology.
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https://hal-univ-lyon1.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-02016388
Contributor : Lauriane Pillet <>
Submitted on : Friday, June 4, 2021 - 4:36:55 PM
Last modification on : Wednesday, September 15, 2021 - 10:14:05 AM
Long-term archiving on: : Sunday, September 5, 2021 - 8:01:17 PM

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P. Blanchard, C. Lauzeral, Simon Chamaillé-Jammes, N. G. Yoccoz, D. Pontier. Analyzing the proximity to cover in a landscape of fear: a new approach applied to fine-scale habitat use by rabbits facing feral cat predation on Kerguelen archipelago. PeerJ, PeerJ, 2016, 4, pp.e1769. ⟨10.7717/peerj.1769⟩. ⟨hal-02016388⟩

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