Direct Look from a Predator Shortens the Risk-Assessment Time by Prey

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Decision making process is an important component of information use by animals and has already been studied in natural situations. Decision making takes time, which is expressed as a cost in evolutionary explanations of decision making abilities of animals. However, the duration of information assessment and decision making process has not been measured in a natural situation. Here, we use responses of wild magpies (Pica pica) to predictably approaching humans to demonstrate that, regardless of whether the bird perceived high (decided to fly away) or low (resumed foraging) threat level, the bird assessed the situation faster when approaching humans looked directly at it than when the humans were not directly looking at it. This indicates that prey is able to extract more information about the predator's intentions and to respond sooner when the predator is continuously ("intently") looking at the prey. The results generally illustrate how an increase of information available to an individual leads to a shorter assessment and decision making process, confirming one of central tenets of psychology of information use in a wild bird species in its natural habitat. © 2013 Lee et al.




Lee, S. im, Hwang, S., Joe, Y. eun, Cha, H. kyung, Joo, G. ho, Lee, H. jeong, … Jablonski, P. G. (2013). Direct Look from a Predator Shortens the Risk-Assessment Time by Prey. PLoS ONE, 8(6).

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