The effects of predator odors in mammalian prey species: A review of field and laboratory studies

Apfelbach, R., Blanchard, C. D., Blanchard, R. J., Hayes, R. A. and McGregor, I. S. (2005) The effects of predator odors in mammalian prey species: A review of field and laboratory studies. Neuroscience And Biobehavioral Reviews, 29 8: 1123-1144. doi:10.1016/j.neubiorev.2005.05.005

Author Apfelbach, R.
Blanchard, C. D.
Blanchard, R. J.
Hayes, R. A.
McGregor, I. S.
Title The effects of predator odors in mammalian prey species: A review of field and laboratory studies
Journal name Neuroscience And Biobehavioral Reviews   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0149-7634
Publication date 2005-01-01
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2005.05.005
Volume 29
Issue 8
Start page 1123
End page 1144
Total pages 22
Place of publication United Kingdom
Publisher Pergamon
Language eng
Abstract wPrey species show specific adaptations that allow recognition, avoidance and defense against predators. For many mammalian species this includes sensitivity towards predator-derived odors. The typical sources of such odors include predator skin and fur, urine, feces and anal gland secretions. Avoidance of predator odors has been observed in many mammalian prey species including rats, mice, voles, deer, rabbits, gophers, hedgehogs, possums and sheep. Field and laboratory studies show that predator odors have distinctive behavioral effects which include (1) inhibition of activity, (2) suppression of non-defensive behaviors such as foraging, feeding and grooming, and (3) shifts to habitats or secure locations where such odors are not present. The repellent effect of predator odors in the field may sometimes be of practical use in the protection of crops and natural resources, although not all attempts at this have been successful. The failure of some studies to obtain repellent effects with predator odors may relate to (1) mismatches between the predator odors and prey species employed, (2) strain and individual differences in sensitivity to predator odors, and (3) the use of predator odors that have low efficacy. In this regard, a small number of recent studies have suggested that skin and fur-derived predator odors may have a more profound lasting effect on prey species than those derived from urine or feces. Predator odors can have powerful effects on the endocrine system including a suppression of testosterone and increased levels of stress hormones such as corticosterone and ACTH. Inhibitory effects of predator odors on reproductive behavior have been demonstrated, and these are particularly prevalent in female rodent species. Pregnant female rodents exposed to predator odors may give birth to smaller litters while exposure to predator odors during early life can hinder normal development. Recent research is starting to uncover the neural circuitry activated by predator odors, leading to hypotheses about how such activation leads to observable effects on reproduction, foraging and feeding. (c) 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Keyword Behavioral Sciences
Predator Odor
Defensive Behavior
Behavioral Suppression
Endocrine Effects
Neural Effects
Small Mammals
Reduce Feeding Damage
Hares Lepus-americanus
Gophers Thomomys-talpoides
Risk Allocation Hypothesis
Microtus-oeconomus Pallas
Weasel Mustela-nivalis
Rats Rattus-norvegicus
Short-tailed Weasel
Cyclic Bank Voles
Cat Odor
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status Unknown

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Excellence in Research Australia (ERA) - Collection
School of Agriculture and Food Sciences
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 331 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
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Created: Tue, 14 Aug 2007, 01:40:07 EST