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Title: Predation risk is a function of seasonality rather than habitat complexity in a tropical semiarid forest
Authors: Ferreira, Anthony Santana
Faria, Renato Gomes
Keywords: Animal experiment
Attack rate
Dry season
Predation risk
Issue Date: 2021
metadata.dc.publisher.journal: Scientific Reports
metadata.dc.relation.ispartof: Volume 11, Número 11
Abstract: Predator–prey dynamics are some of the most important species’ interactions in the natural structuring of communities, and are among the more complex ecological processes studied by ecologists. We measured predation risk using artificial lizard replicas to test two competing hypotheses regarding predation pressure in semi-arid environments: (1) predation risk is dependent on the habitat structural complexity; and (2) predation risk is dependent on seasonality. We placed 960 lizard replicas along three sites with different physical structures and in both dry and rainy seasons for seven consecutive days in a caatinga area in northeastern Brazil at Grota do Angico Natural Monument (GANM). Birds were responsible for the majority of attacks and more frequently on artificial lizards placed in trees. Attacks focused on the most vulnerable areas of the body (head and torso), proving that were perceived by predators as true prey items. We found that predation risk is not dependent on the habitat structural complexity, but rather dependent on the caatinga seasonality, with the overall attack rate being 19% higher in the dry season. Our study suggests that potential predation risk is highly context-dependent and that seasonality consistently drives of trophic interactions strength in the caatinga, an important ecological finding that could contribute to better understanding the complex evolution of predator–prey interactions within communities of animals living in different habitats. © 2021, The Author(s).
metadata.dc.identifier.doi: 10.1038/s41598-021-96216-8
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