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1 March 2014 Male and Female Voles do not Differ in Their Assessments of Predation Risk
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A forager's willingness to trade off safety for food varies with its energetic state. Animals in a low energetic state should accept higher risk than animals with larger energy reserves. In mammals, energy expenditure by females on gestation and lactation may exceed the relatively low cost of sperm production by males. It follows, if reproductive costs are indeed higher for females than for males, that reproductive females may be more likely than males to trade safety for food. Thus, we evaluated the use of safe versus risky foraging patches by male and female meadow voles using putatively safe and risky habitats. We also used behavioural trials to assess whether sexual differences in personality could account for any differences in patch use. Voles preferred to forage in safe patches over risky ones. There was no difference between male and female voles, or between reproductive and non-reproductive individuals, in their respective use of safe versus risky foraging patches. Personality also had no effect on patch choice. The results are consistent with recent studies on other species that have failed to find differences in reproductive costs between the sexes. Experiments on foraging behaviour might thus provide simple and repeatable tests for sexual differences and similarities in reproductive costs.

William D. Halliday, Douglas W. Morris, Jordan A. Devito, and Denon M. Start "Male and Female Voles do not Differ in Their Assessments of Predation Risk," Ecoscience 21(1), 61-68, (1 March 2014).
Published: 1 March 2014

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