Carnivore-Ungulate Ecology

Project collaborators

Alex Killion, Michigan State University
Dr. Robert Montgomery, Michigan State University
Dr. Craig Tambling, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, South Africa
Dr. Matt Hayward, Bangor University

The ‘landscape of fear’ has recently become a popular theory describing the predator-prey interactions of carnivores and ungulates. This theory predicts that ungulates will change their behavior in response to the threat of carnivore predation. Although this idea is well-supported in smaller systems (e.g., invertebrate systems), the strength and scope of the landscape of fear in vast carnivore-ungulate systems are still poorly understood. We use a common anti-predator defense behavior in ungulates – group formation – to evaluate the landscape of fear following reintroductions of two large carnivores, lions (Panthera leo) and hyenas (Crocuta crocuta), to Addo Elephant National Park in South Africa. Our work uniquely decomposes predation risk into two types, the risk of encountering a carnivore and the risk of being killed by a carnivore, and assesses how predator ‘fear effects’ vary by prey species and habitat structure.

Our work on this project was published in Ecology and can be accessed here.