Novel predator recognition by Allenby's gerbil (Gerbillus andersoni allenbyi ): do gerbils learn to respond to a snake that can “see” in the dark?
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PublisherTAYLOR & FRANCIS LTD
CitationNovel predator recognition by Allenby's gerbil (Gerbillus andersoni allenbyi): do gerbils learn to respond to a snake that can “see” in the dark? 2016, 62 (3-4):178 Israel Journal of Ecology & Evolution
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AbstractUnlike desert rodents from North America, Allenby’s gerbil (Gerbillus andersoni allenbyi) from the Negev Desert, Israel has evolved with snakes that do not have heat-sensitive sensory pits that enhance night vision. Does this history affect their ability to assess and respond to a snake that has this ability? As a test, we exposed gerbils to risk of predation from various predators, including snakes, owls, and foxes. The snakes included the Saharan horned viper (Cerastes cerastes) and the sidewinder rattlesnake (Crotalus cerastes). The former snake lacks sensory pits and shares a common evolutionary history with the gerbil. The latter snake, while convergent evolutionarily on the horned viper, has sensory pits and no prior history with the gerbil. The gerbils exploited depletable resource patches similarly, regardless of snake species and moon phase. While the gerbils did not respond to the novel snake as a greater threat than their familiar horned viper, the gerbils were cognizant that the novel predator was a threat. In response to both snakes, giving-up densities (GUDs; the amount of food left in a resource patch following exploitation) of the gerbils were higher in the bush than open microhabitat. In response to moonlight, GUDs were higher on full than on the new moon. Based on GUDs, the gerbils responded most to the risk of predation from the red fox, least from the two snake species, and intermediate for the barn owl. Keywords:
Note12 month embargo; Published online: 13 May 2016
VersionFinal accepted manuscript
SponsorsUS-Israel Binational Science Foundation (BSF) [BSF-2008163]