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Hunting on a hot day: effects of temperature on interactions between African wild dogs and their prey

Creel, Scott, Creel, Nancy M., Creel, Andrea M., Creel, Bridget M.
Ecology 2016 v.97 no.11 pp. 2910-2916
Lycaon pictus, allometry, climate change, dogs, ecosystems, endothermy, heat, phenology, predators, temperature
As global temperatures increase, interactions between species are affected by changes in distribution, abundance and phenology, but also by changes in behavior. The heat dissipation limitation hypothesis suggests that the ability to dissipate heat commonly limits the activity of endotherms, a problem that should be particularly acute for cursorial predators and their prey in equatorial ecosystems. Allometric relationships suggest that heat dissipation should be a stronger constraint for larger species, so that (smaller) predators should be less affected than (larger) prey. We used data from 266 complete days of direct observation of African wild dogs (Lycaon pictus) in five packs over a period of 2 yr to test how deviations of temperature from that expected for the time of day affected eight measures of hunting effort and success. We found that higher temperatures disadvantaged the prey of wild dogs more than the dogs themselves, with increased hunting success and shorter pursuits on warmer days. Broadly, our results demonstrate that effects of temperature on behavior can alter interactions between species, exacerbating or offsetting the direct effects of climate change.