A game of cat-and-mouse: do habitat structure and fire history influence native rodent foraging behaviour
Royal Society of Western Australia Inc.
School of Natural Sciences / Centre for Ecosystem Management
Invasive predators have caused significant species declines and extinctions worldwide, especially in insular systems like Australia. Foxes and feral cats are responsible for the extinction of at least 22 Australian mammal species in the past 200 years. To avoid being killed by predators, prey species modify their spatial or temporal use of habitat, or the time when they undertake different activities. Giving-up-density (GUD) experiments are commonly used to test the influence of predation risk on prey species. In a controlled setting, a decrease in the GUD corresponds to a decrease in predation risk, and vice versa. The aim of this experiment was to investigate the foraging strategies of two native rodents in respect to microhabitat structure and vegetation fire history. We predicted that rodents would spend more time foraging in bush microhabitats and in unburnt habitat, and that the positive effect of bush microhabitats would be less in unburnt areas.