Predators are attracted to the olfactory signals of prey.
AuthorHughes, NK; Price, CJ; Banks, PB
Source TitlePLoS One
PublisherPublic Library of Science (PLoS)
University of Melbourne Author/sHughes, Nelika
AffiliationSchool of BioSciences
Document TypeJournal Article
CitationsHughes, N. K., Price, C. J. & Banks, P. B. (2010). Predators are attracted to the olfactory signals of prey.. PLoS One, 5 (9), pp.1-4. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0013114.
Access StatusOpen Access
Open Access at PMChttp://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2948037
BACKGROUND: Predator attraction to prey social signals can force prey to trade-off the social imperatives to communicate against the profound effect of predation on their future fitness. These tradeoffs underlie theories on the design and evolution of conspecific signalling systems and have received much attention in visual and acoustic signalling modes. Yet while most territorial mammals communicate using olfactory signals and olfactory hunting is widespread in predators, evidence for the attraction of predators to prey olfactory signals under field conditions is lacking. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: To redress this fundamental issue, we examined the attraction of free-roaming predators to discrete patches of scents collected from groups of two and six adult, male house mice, Mus domesticus, which primarily communicate through olfaction. Olfactorily-hunting predators were rapidly attracted to mouse scent signals, visiting mouse scented locations sooner, and in greater number, than control locations. There were no effects of signal concentration on predator attraction to their prey's signals. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: This implies that communication will be costly if conspecific receivers and eavesdropping predators are simultaneously attracted to a signal. Significantly, our results also suggest that receivers may be at greater risk of predation when communicating than signallers, as receivers must visit risky patches of scent to perform their half of the communication equation, while signallers need not.
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