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Ungulate Antipredator Behaviour: Preliminary and Comparative Data From African Bovids

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The adaptive significance of antipredator behaviour patterns was examined in six species of African bovid by recording the behaviours' design features during flights from a human on foot. Snorting signalled awareness of the predator, and did not warn conspecifics of danger. Leaping in impalas reduced flight speeds and was an honest signal of the performer's physical condition. Bounding was used by many species to clear obstacles. Stotting carried a time cost and it too signalled the prey's physical condition. Tacking and prancing were behaviours shown primarily by Alcelaphines and, respectively, may have served to wrongfoot a predator, and signal that the prey had achieved a safe distance from it. These findings indicate that pursuit deterrent signals are common in bovids; that some convey specific information about the situation at hand while others pass on additional information about the prey's condition; and that signals of condition are kept honest by being coupled to demonstrated time and probable energetic costs as theory predicts. Across a wider sample of 13 species, pursuit deterrence appears to be associated with plains living species. Where there are few opportunities for hiding, and prey can only evade capture by outdistancing or outmanoeuvring the predator, there may be greater selection on the use of signals to convince the predator to halt its advance.

Affiliations: 1: (Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Biology, University of California, Davis, CA 95616, USA, Serengeti Wildlife Research Institute, P.O. Box 661, Arusha, Tanzania


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