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, 5, e3701

Energetics and Evasion Dynamics of Large Predators and Prey: Pumas vs. Hounds


Energetics and Evasion Dynamics of Large Predators and Prey: Pumas vs. Hounds

Caleb M Bryce et al. PeerJ.


Quantification of fine-scale movement, performance, and energetics of hunting by large carnivores is critical for understanding the physiological underpinnings of trophic interactions. This is particularly challenging for wide-ranging terrestrial canid and felid predators, which can each affect ecosystem structure through distinct hunting modes. To compare free-ranging pursuit and escape performance from group-hunting and solitary predators in unprecedented detail, we calibrated and deployed accelerometer-GPS collars during predator-prey chase sequences using packs of hound dogs (Canis lupus familiaris, 26 kg, n = 4-5 per chase) pursuing simultaneously instrumented solitary pumas (Puma concolor, 60 kg, n = 2). We then reconstructed chase paths, speed and turning angle profiles, and energy demands for hounds and pumas to examine performance and physiological constraints associated with cursorial and cryptic hunting modes, respectively. Interaction dynamics revealed how pumas successfully utilized terrain (e.g., fleeing up steep, wooded hillsides) as well as evasive maneuvers (e.g., jumping into trees, running in figure-8 patterns) to increase their escape distance from the overall faster hounds (avg. 2.3× faster). These adaptive strategies were essential to evasion in light of the mean 1.6× higher mass-specific energetic costs of the chase for pumas compared to hounds (mean: 0.76 vs. 1.29 kJ kg-1 min-1, respectively). On an instantaneous basis, escapes were more costly for pumas, requiring exercise at ≥90% of predicted [Formula: see text] and consuming as much energy per minute as approximately 5 min of active hunting. Our results demonstrate the marked investment of energy for evasion by a large, solitary carnivore and the advantage of dynamic maneuvers to postpone being overtaken by group-hunting canids.

Keywords: Accelerometer; Adaptive strategies; Energetics; GPS telemetry; Hunting modes; Large carnivore; Movement ecology; Performance; Physiology; Tradeoffs.

Conflict of interest statement

The authors declare there are no competing interests.


Figure 1
Figure 1. Chase 1 pursuit (red lines = hounds) and escape (blue line = puma) paths (A), including the elevation profile for Brandy, a GPS-accelerometer collar equipped hound.
Insets display ODBA (g, B), speed (ms−1, C), and estimated mass-specific metabolic demand (V ˙O2 in ml O2kg−1min−1, D) For (B), (C), and (D), mean values are presented as dashed horizontal lines, and solid horizontal lines in (D) depict V ˙O2MAX for each species. Tortuosity plots (proportion of turns in each compass direction, (E) and the elevation profile for the accelerometer-GPS-equipped hound (F) are also presented. Map data© 2016 Google.
Figure 2
Figure 2. GPS-derived pursuit and escape speeds for hounds (red) and pumas (blue), respectively, during all chases.
The mean (±SE) speeds, in m/s, for hounds (1.7 ± 0.03) and pumas (0.74 ± 0.09) are depicted as dashed vertical lines.
Figure 3
Figure 3. Escape acceleration signatures of adult male pumas 36 (A, B) and 26 (C, D).
Acceleration (g) is scaled to the same range for comparison. Chase distance is in m and chase duration is in mm:ss. Colors correspond to pumas’ accelerometer-GPS collar orientation in the X (transverse sway, black), Y (anterior-posterior surge, blue), and Z (dorsal-ventral heave, red) planes.
Figure 4
Figure 4. Hound pursuit paths (A–D) and 2D-spatial histograms (E–H) of pack cohesion over the course of each chase, with black arrows indicating direction of chase.
Every 3 s, the group centroid throughout each pursuit path is marked as a red plus (+). In the spatial histogram insets, the relative position of each hound relative to the group centroid is scaled by color, with warm colors representing close group cohesion and cool colors depicting more distant spacing.
Figure 5
Figure 5. Energetic costs of pursuit and evasion for hounds (white) and pumas (grey), respectively, summarized across four chases.
Total metabolic cost (kJ, A), metabolic rate (kJmin−1, B), mass-specific metabolic rate (kJkg−1min−1, C), and cost of transport (COT, Jkg−1m−1, D) are shown. Asterisks (*) denote significant (p ≤ 0.05) differences between species.
Figure 6
Figure 6. Estimated mean metabolic rate (V ˙O2, ml O2kg−1min−1) expressed as a percentage of V ˙O2MAX for hounds (red) and pumas (blue) during each chase.

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Grant support

Support was provided by the National Science Foundation (DBI-0963022, DBI-1255913, and GK-12 DGE-0947923) and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. Additional support came to CMB from the UCSC Science Internship Program (SIP), Mazamas, the ARCS Foundation, and the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (EEB) Department at UC Santa Cruz. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

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