Skip to main content
SLU publication database (SLUpub)
Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2017

Mesopredator behavioral response to olfactory signals of an apex predator

Wikenros, Camilla; Jarnemo, Anders; Frisen, Marielle; Kuijper, Dries P. J.; Schmidt, Krzysztof


Olfactory signals constitute an important mechanism in interspecific interactions, but little is known regarding their role in communication between predator species. We analyzed the behavioral responses of a mesopredator, the red fox (Vulpes vulpes), to an olfactory cue (scat) of an apex predator, the lynx (Lynx lynx) in BiaowieA 1/4a Primeval Forest, Poland, using video camera traps. Red fox visited sites with scats more often than expected and the duration of their visits was longer at scat sites than at control sites (no scat added). Vigilant behavior, sniffing and scent marking (including over-marking) occurred more often at scat sites compared to control sites, where foxes mainly passed by. Vigilance was most pronounced during the first days of the recordings. Red fox behavior was also influenced by foxes previously visiting scat sites. They sniffed and scent marked (multiple over-marking) more frequently when the lynx scat had been over-marked previously by red fox. Fox visits to lynx scats may be seen as a trade-off between obtaining information on a potential food source (prey killed by lynx) and the potential risk of predation by an apex predator.


Interspecific interactions; Lynx lynx; Over-marking; Predator detection; Vulpes vulpes; Scent marking

Published in

Journal of Ethology
2017, Volume: 35, number: 2, pages: 161-168

      SLU Authors

      UKÄ Subject classification

      Behavioral Sciences Biology

      Publication Identifiers


      Permanent link to this page (URI)