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Human observers impact habituated samango monkeys’ perceived landscape of fear


Nowak, K and le Roux, A and Richards, SA and Scheijen, CPJ and Hill, RA, Human observers impact habituated samango monkeys' perceived landscape of fear, Behavioral Ecology, 25, (5) pp. 1199-1204. ISSN 1045-2249 (2014) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

© The Author 2014

DOI: doi:10.1093/beheco/aru110


Humans and human infrastructure are known to alter the relationship between predators and prey, typically by directly or indirectly shielding one of the species from the other. In addition to these overt changes to animals’ behavior, observers may have more subtle impacts on animals’ foraging decisions. However, the anthropogenic alteration of risk-taking behavior has rarely been acknowledged or quantified, particularly in behavioral ecological studies reliant on habituated animals. We tested the magnitude of the "human shield effect" experimentally on 2 groups of samango monkeys, Cercopithecus mitis erythrarcus, at a site with high natural predator density and no human hunting pressure. In general, giving-up densities—the density of food remaining in a patch when a forager leaves— were greatest at ground level (0.1 m) relative to 3 tree canopy levels (2.5, 5, and 7.5 m), highlighting a strong vertical axis of fear. When human followers were present, however, giving-up densities were reduced at all 4 heights; furthermore, for 1 group, the vertical axis disappeared in the presence of observers. Our results suggest that human observers lower monkeys’ perceived risk of terrestrial predators and, thereby, affect their foraging decisions at or near ground level. These results have significant implications for future studies of responses to predation risk based on habituation and observational methods.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:landscape of fear, primates
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Ecology
Research Field:Behavioural ecology
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in the biological sciences
UTAS Author:Richards, SA (Dr Shane Richards)
ID Code:120187
Year Published:2014
Web of Science® Times Cited:61
Deposited By:Office of the School of Natural Sciences
Deposited On:2017-08-14
Last Modified:2017-09-20

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