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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2023

Proximity-sensors on GPS collars reveal fine-scale predator-prey behavior during a predation event: A case study from Scandinavia

Tallian, Aimee; Mattisson, Jenny; Stenbacka, Fredrik; Neumann, Wiebke; Johansson, Anders; Stoen, Ole Gunnar; Kindberg, Jonas

Abstract

Although the advent of high-resolution GPS tracking technology has helped increase our understanding of individual and multispecies behavior in wildlife systems, detecting and recording direct interactions between free-ranging animals remains difficult. In 2023, we deployed GPS collars equipped with proximity sensors (GPS proximity collars) on brown bears (Ursus arctos) and moose (Alces alces) as part of a multispecies interaction study in central Sweden. On 6 June, 2023, a collar on an adult female moose and a collar on an adult male bear triggered each other's UHF signal and started collecting fine-scale GPS positioning data. The moose collar collected positions every 2 min for 89 min, and the bear collar collected positions every 1 min for 41 min. On 8 June, field personnel visited the site and found a female neonate moose carcass with clear indications of bear bite marks on the head and neck. During the predation event, the bear remained at the carcass while the moose moved back and forth, moving toward the carcass site about five times. The moose was observed via drone with two calves on 24 May and with only one remaining calf on 9 June. This case study describes, to the best of our knowledge, the first instance of a predation event between two free ranging, wild species recorded by GPS proximity collars. Both collars successfully triggered and switched to finer-scaled GPS fix rates when the individuals were in close proximity, producing detailed movement data for both predator and prey during and after a predation event. We suggest that, combined with standard field methodology, GPS proximity collars placed on free-ranging animals offer the ability for researchers to observe direct interactions between multiple individuals and species in the wild without the need for direct visual observation.

Keywords

Alces alces; behavioral interactions; brown bears; direct interactions; fine-scale movement; interspecific interactions; moose; predator-prey interactions; Sweden; Ursus arctos

Published in

Ecology and Evolution
2023, Volume: 13, number: 12, article number: e10750