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Durham e-Theses
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Foraging under Predation Risk: A test of giving-up densities with samango monkeys in South Africa

SASSOON, RACHEL (2013) Foraging under Predation Risk: A test of giving-up densities with samango monkeys in South Africa. Masters thesis, Durham University.



Animals frequently make a trade-off between food and safety and will sacrifice feeding effort if it means safety from predators. A forager can also vary its vigilance levels to manage predation risk. Giving-up densities (GUDs), the amount of food items left once a forager has quit an experimental food patch, have been used extensively as measures of foraging behaviour under risk of predation in a wide range of species. Vigilance also serves as an anti-predatory response to predation risk and has been the focus of a range of behavioural studies. However, very few studies have looked at these two measures together.

The principal aim of this study was to determine the effect of habitat factors on the foraging behaviour of samango monkeys (Cercopithcus mitis erythrarchus) by measuring GUDs in artificial food patches and foraging behaviour, and relating this to height from the ground, canopy cover, habitat visibility and observed behaviour. The second objective was then to determine the extent to which the experimental approach matched observed behaviour in measuring primate responses to predation risk.

The monkeys revealed lower GUDs with increasing height and with decreasing canopy cover and but were not affected by habitat visibility. Vigilance varied considerably with only conspecific and observer vigilance showing significant effects. Conspecific vigilance increased with height and decreasing canopy cover. Vigilance directed at observers increased with decreasing canopy cover. There was no effect of habitat visibility on any of the component behaviours of vigilance.

The vigilance behaviour of the monkeys did not completely compliment the GUD results. The findings of this study confirm the prediction that habitat plays a key role in the foraging behaviour of samango monkeys but that vigilance is more sensitive to other factors such as sociality. Further work is required to determine the extent to which experimental approaches based on giving up densities match patterns of antipredatory behaviour recorded by observational methods.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Award:Master of Science
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Anthropology, Department of
Thesis Date:2013
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:07 Apr 2014 11:15

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