IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this article

Prey jitters; protean behaviour in grouped prey

Listed author(s):
  • Katherine A. Jones
  • Andrew L. Jackson
  • Graeme D. Ruxton
Registered author(s):

    There have been many descriptive accounts of so-called "protean" or unpredictable escape tactics in prey animals. It is assumed that predators will have difficulty targeting more protean prey either via the prey's escape trajectory and/or via enhancement of the confusion effect (reduced ability to track an individual target in a group of moving and phenotypically similar prey). However, to date no studies have examined whether protean movements decrease predation risk as predicted. In this paper we test, using humans as model predators, whether "protean" prey that have a higher variance in turning angle (and thus change direction abruptly, rather than move on a smoother trajectory) are more difficult to capture and whether this interacts with the confusion effect (previously found using the same model system). We found that protean prey were significantly more difficult to capture. However, protean behaviour did not enhance the confusion effect. We suggest that the primary purpose of protean movements may simply be to make it more difficult for a predator to chase and capture prey, increasing the likelihood predators will give up chase sooner, and that such protean behaviour need not be contingent on prey aggregation. Copyright 2011, Oxford University Press.

    If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

    Article provided by International Society for Behavioral Ecology in its journal Behavioral Ecology.

    Volume (Year): 22 (2011)
    Issue (Month): 4 ()
    Pages: 831-836

    in new window

    Handle: RePEc:oup:beheco:v:22:y:2011:i:4:p:831-836
    Contact details of provider: Postal:
    Oxford University Press, Great Clarendon Street, Oxford OX2 6DP, UK

    Fax: 01865 267 985
    Web page:

    Order Information: Web:

    No references listed on IDEAS
    You can help add them by filling out this form.

    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:oup:beheco:v:22:y:2011:i:4:p:831-836. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Oxford University Press)

    or (Christopher F. Baum)

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.