Animal escapology I: theoretical issues and emerging trends in escape trajectories

Domenici, Paolo, Blagburn, Jonathan M and Bacon, Jonathan M (2011) Animal escapology I: theoretical issues and emerging trends in escape trajectories. Journal of Experimental Biology, 214 (15). pp. 2463-2473. ISSN 0022-0949

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Escape responses are used by many animal species as their main defence against predator attacks. Escape success is determined by a number of variables; important are the directionality (the percentage of responses directed away from the threat) and the escape trajectories (ETs) measured relative to the threat. Although logic would suggest that animals should always turn away from a predator, work on various species shows that these away responses occur only approximately 50–90% of the time. A small proportion of towards responses may introduce some unpredictability and may be an adaptive feature of the escape system. Similar issues apply to ETs. Theoretically, an optimal ET can be modelled on the geometry of predator–prey encounters. However, unpredictability (and hence high variability) in trajectories may be necessary for preventing predators from learning a simple escape pattern. This review discusses the emerging trends in escape trajectories, as well as the modulating key factors, such as the surroundings and body design. The main ET patterns identified are: (1) high ET variability within a limited angular sector (mainly 90–180deg away from the threat; this variability is in some cases based on multiple peaks of ETs), (2) ETs that allow sensory tracking of the threat and (3) ETs towards a shelter. These characteristic features are observed across various taxa and, therefore, their expression may be mainly related to taxon-independent animal design features and to the environmental context in which prey live – for example whether the immediate surroundings of the prey provide potential refuges.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Life Sciences > Evolution, Behaviour and Environment
Subjects: Q Science > QL Zoology > QL0750 Animal behaviour
Depositing User: Jonathan Bacon
Date Deposited: 31 Jan 2017 11:34
Last Modified: 02 Jul 2019 23:51

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