Head raising during foraging and pausing during intermittent locomotion as components of antipredator vigilance in chipmunks
Although many studies of vigilance examine head raising in foraging, grooming or resting animals, pauses during intermittent locomotion are rarely considered from the perspective of vigilance, and no studies have compared head raising and pausing in the same system. We videotaped central place foraging chipmunks, Tamias striatus, as they approached a patch, collected sunflower seeds, and left to return to their burrows. There was a strong similarity between head raising during foraging and pausing during intermittent locomotion. Chipmunks paused more frequently when moving towards the patch than when leaving the patch. Chipmunks in the patch raised their heads at an intermediate rate, which tended to decrease with time in the patch. Pauses and the duration of motionless periods during head raises were very short (w0.4 s), and their frequency distributions were similar. Animals remained motionless during 22% of the time spent approaching the patch, 14% of the time spent in the patch and 7% of the time spent leaving the patch. Rates of pausing and head raising generally decreased with short-term familiarity (number of trips to the patch) and with long-term familiarity (proximity of the patch to the burrow). Trials with higher pause rates when approaching the patch had higher head-raising rates in the patch. Whether the focal individual was solitary, dominant or subordinate in a dyad, or competing with multiple chipmunks in the patch had no effect on pausing or head raising. In a separate experiment, exposure to a model hawk increased pause and head-raising rates. We conclude that head raising during foraging and pausing during locomotion serve a similar vigilance function, that this vigilance is directed towards detection of predators rather than conspecifics, and that time allocated to vigilance is sufficient to significantly reduce foraging rates and affect many space use and foraging decisions.
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