Neighbouring plants and perception of predation risk modulate winter browsing by white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus)

Authors: Champagne, ÉmiliePerroud, LucieDumont, AndréTremblay, Jean-PierreCôté, Steeve D.
Abstract: The presence of neighbouring plants and predation risk can affect trophic interactions between plants and herbivores. We hypothesized that the relative preference for neighbouring species would determine winter herbivory and that predation risk would modulate browsing pressure. We tested these hypotheses using feeding trials in two regions with high white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus (Zimmermann, 1780)) densities: Outaouais and Anticosti Island (Quebec, Canada). In each, we selected a species of interest and compared browsing rates and time spent foraging with neighbours relatively preferred or avoided. In a subexperiment, we included coyote (Canis latrans Say, 1823) urine to test for threat-sensitive foraging and interactions with neighbour effects. In Outaouais, time spent foraging on the focal species was reduced by the presence of potentially avoided neighbours and deer reduced browsing with increased perceived predation risk. On Anticosti, browsing rates on the focal species increased with avoided neighbours, with no effect of the predator urine. Anticosti deer have been in a predator-free environment for more than 120 years, likely reducing antipredator behaviours. This study demonstrates both neighbour effects and threatsensitive foraging, phenomena that could interact and thus would benefit from being studied together to better represent trophic interactions in natural environments.
Document Type: Article de recherche
Issue Date: 13 September 2017
Open Access Date: Restricted access
Document version: VoR
This document was published in: Canadian Journal of Zoology, Vol. 96 (2), 117–125 (2018)
NRC Research Pres
Alternative version: 10.1139/cjz-2017-0063
Collection:Articles publiés dans des revues avec comité de lecture

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