Oral Presentation- Symposium 12th International Mammalogical Congress

Bringing the landscape of fear back to conservation (#297)

Sonny Bleicher 1 , Chris Dickman 2 , Mike Rosenzweig 1
  1. University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona, United States of America
  2. University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Variations in animal behavior can be studied to assess how animals perceive spatial variation of their landscape. An important example is 'the landscape of fear' (LOF) in which maps of behavior reveal the comparative danger perceived by a species in the various habitats of its landscape. LOFs have many uses but here we use them for conservation, their original purpose. In particular, we look at two free-ranging mammals in their native habitats, dunnarts (Sminthopsis sp.) in the Simpson Desert, central Australia, and collared peccaries (Pecari tajacu) on Tumamoc Hill, Tucson, Arizona.  We measured the LOFs for both species in their native habitat using foraging patches. Dunnarts, small desert marsupials, which are preyed upon by invasive predators, found that artificial shelters as safe only in a particular habitat, a goldilocks zone of natural shelters and preferred elevation on the sand crests. The group of collared peccary that we studied lives in a nature reserve with heavy human traffic on a hard-surfaced road. We discovered that the peccaries, though not shy of humans, perceive proximity to the road as added risk — they did not forage near pedestrian trails at all. We raise the baton, to show the application of this method for conservation purposes and wildlife management.