Research Highlights: Brandt’s voles cut grass to monitor predators


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By Bogomolov.PL – Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7038188

Brandt’s voles cut grass to monitor predators

  • The interactions between predators and preys are common and can significantly affect the structure of ecological communities.
  • Habitat complexity has been shown to have importance in the regulation of predator-prey interaction strength.
  • Habitat complexity refers to the level or strength of interaction between a species and its environment.[1]
  • Changes in the structure of habitat can affect the efficacy of both predatory and anti-predatory behaviors.
  • Some prey species conduct engineering activities that modify the environment to reduce being hunted.
  • However, the consequences of these engineering activities are still not fully understood.
  • Researchers evaluated how changes in habitat by Brandt’s voles affects predation risk from shrike in grassland.
  • Researchers discovered that voles change the structure of habitat by cutting down large bunch grass when shrike are present.
  • The grass-cutting behavior of these voles dramatically reduced the number of unpalatable grasses which results in the reduction of shrike visitation.
  • The results show that modifying habitat structure can reduce predation risk in certain herbivorous prey.
  • The relationship between predation risk and ecosystem engineering may be important; however, it is not a valued mechanism at play in the natural world.

Sources:

Zhong, Z. et. al. (2022). A rodent herbivore reduces its predation risk through ecosystem engineering, Current BiologyDOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2022.02.074

[1] https://link.springer.com/referenceworkentry/10.1007/978-94-017-8801-4_234


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