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1.  Coordination and Synchronisation of Anti-Predation Vigilance in Two Crane Species 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(10):e26447.
Much of the previous research on anti-predation vigilance in groups has assumed independent scanning for threats among group members. Alternative patterns that are based on monitoring the vigilance levels of companions can also be adaptive. Coordination of vigilance, in which foragers avoid scanning at the same time as others, should decrease the odds that no group member is alert. Synchronisation of vigilance implies that individuals are more likely to be vigilant when companions are already vigilant. While synchronisation will increase the odds that no one is vigilant, it may allow a better assessment of potential threats. We investigated temporal sequences of vigilance in family flocks consisting of two parents and at most two juveniles in two species of cranes in coastal China. We established whether the observed probability that at least one parent is alert was greater (coordination) or lower (synchronisation) than that predicted under the null hypothesis of independent vigilance. We documented coordination of vigilance in common cranes (Grus grus) foraging in an area with high potential for disturbance by people. We documented synchronisation of vigilance in red-crowned cranes (Grus japonensis) in the less but not in the more disturbed area. Coordination in small flocks leads to high collective vigilance but low foraging rates that may not be suitable in areas with low disturbance. We also argue that synchronisation should break down in areas with high disturbance because periods with low vigilance are riskier. Results highlight the view that temporal patterns of vigilance can take many forms depending on ecological factors.
PMCID: PMC3197517  PMID: 22028880
2.  Behavioural Adjustment in Response to Increased Predation Risk: A Study in Three Duck Species 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(4):e18977.
Predation directly triggers behavioural decisions designed to increase immediate survival. However, these behavioural modifications can have long term costs. There is therefore a trade-off between antipredator behaviours and other activities. This trade-off is generally considered between vigilance and only one other behaviour, thus neglecting potential compensations. In this study, we considered the effect of an increase in predation risk on the diurnal time-budget of three captive duck species during the wintering period. We artificially increased predation risk by disturbing two groups of 14 mallard and teals at different frequencies, and one group of 14 tufted ducks with a radio-controlled stressor. We recorded foraging, vigilance, preening and sleeping durations the week before, during and after disturbance sessions. Disturbed groups were compared to an undisturbed control group. We showed that in all three species, the increase in predation risk resulted in a decrease in foraging and preening and led to an increase in sleeping. It is worth noting that contrary to common observations, vigilance did not increase. However, ducks are known to be vigilant while sleeping. This complex behavioural adjustment therefore seems to be optimal as it may allow ducks to reduce their predation risk. Our results highlight the fact that it is necessary to encompass the whole individual time-budget when studying behavioural modifications under predation risk. Finally, we propose that studies of behavioural time-budget changes under predation risk should be included in the more general framework of the starvation-predation risk trade-off.
PMCID: PMC3080407  PMID: 21533055
3.  The value of constant surveillance in a risky environment 
In risky environments, where threats are unpredictable and the quality of information about threats is variable, all individuals face two fundamental challenges: balancing vigilance against other activities, and determining when to respond to warning signals. The solution to both is to obtain continuous estimates of background risk, enabling vigilance to be concentrated during the riskiest periods and informing about the likely cost of ignoring warnings. Human surveillance organizations routinely produce such estimates, frequently derived from indirect cues. Here we show that vigilant individuals in an animal society (the pied babbler, Turdoides bicolor) perform a similar role. We ask (i) whether, in the absence of direct predator threats, pied babbler sentinels react to indirect information associated with increased risk and whether they communicate this information to group mates; (ii) whether group mates use this information to adjust their own vigilance, and whether this influences foraging success; and (iii) whether information provided by sentinels reduces the likelihood of inappropriate responses to alarm calls. Using playback experiments, we show that: (i) sentinels reacted to indirect predator cues (in the form of heterospecific alarm calls) by giving graded surveillance calls; (ii) foragers adjusted their vigilance in reaction to changes in surveillance calls, with substantial effects on foraging success; and (iii) foragers reduced their probability of responding to alarm calls when surveillance calls indicated lowered risk. These results demonstrate that identifying attacks as they occur is only part of vigilance: equally important is continuous surveillance providing information necessary for individuals to make decisions about their own vigilance and evasive action. Moreover, they suggest that a major benefit of group living is not only the increased likelihood of detecting threats, but a marked improvement in the quality of information available to each individual.
PMCID: PMC2817217  PMID: 19493900
sentinel behaviour; risk sensitivity; communication; signal detection theory; cooperation; group living
4.  Interactions among social monitoring, anti-predator vigilance and group size in eastern grey kangaroos 
Group size is known to affect both the amount of time that prey animals spend in vigilance and the degree to which the vigilance of group members is synchronized. However, the variation in group-size effects reported in the literature is not yet understood. Prey animals exhibit vigilance both to protect themselves against predators and to monitor other group members, and both forms of vigilance presumably influence group-size effects on vigilance. However, our understanding of the patterns of individual investment underlying the time sharing between anti-predator and social vigilance is still limited. We studied patterns of variation in individual vigilance and the synchronization of vigilance with group size in a wild population of eastern grey kangaroos (Macropus giganteus) subject to predation, in particular focusing on peripheral females because we expected that they would exhibit both social and anti-predator vigilance. There was no global effect of group size on individual vigilance. The lack of group-size effect was the result of two compensating effects. The proportion of time individuals spent looking at other group members increased, whereas the proportion of time they spent scanning the environment decreased with group size; as a result, overall vigilance levels did not change with group size. Moreover, a degree of synchrony of vigilance occurred within groups and that degree increased with the proportion of vigilance time peripheral females spent in anti-predator vigilance. Our results highlight the crucial roles of both social and anti-predator components of vigilance in the understanding of the relationship between group size and vigilance, as well as in the synchronization of vigilance among group members.
PMCID: PMC2880096  PMID: 20219737
vigilance; anti-predator behaviour; social monitoring; synchronization; group living; eastern grey kangaroo
5.  Look before you leap - individual variation in social vigilance shapes socio-spatial group properties in an agent-based model 
Next to predator detection, primate vigilance also serves to keep track of relevant conspecifics. The degree of vigilance towards group members often reflects the dominance rank of an individual: subordinates pay attention to dominants. Although it has been suggested that subordinates’ vigilance may result in spatial centrality of dominants, this has not been addressed in either empirical or modeling studies. Using agent-based models, we determined how social vigilance affects socio-spatial properties of primate groups. A basic model without social vigilance, where individuals avoid potential aggressors (avoidance model), was contrasted with two models that each additionally included a different type of social vigilance: a) monitoring a specific potential aggressor to remain informed on its whereabouts (monitoring model) or b) scanning the whole group to detect potential aggressors (scanning model). Adding monitoring or scanning behavior to the avoidance model reinforced spatial centrality of dominants, a pattern often observed in primates, and resulted in more spread out groups. Moreover, variation in scanning tendency alone was already sufficient to generate spatial centrality of dominants: frequently scanning subordinates could move further away from the group center than dominants, before losing sight of group members. In the monitoring model, two mechanisms caused decreased encounter frequencies among subordinates: a) increased inter-individual distances, and b) frequent monitoring of central dominants. In the scanning model, encounters among subordinates decreased due to increased inter-individual distances. This agent-based model study provides a clear indication that individual variation in social vigilance may be an important structuring feature of primate social groups.
PMCID: PMC3353107  PMID: 22661823
Social vigilance; Social attention; Aggression; Social behavior; Individual-based model; Self-organization
6.  Prey synchronize their vigilant behaviour with other group members 
It is generally assumed that an individual of a prey species can benefit from an increase in the number of its group's members by reducing its own investment in vigilance. But what behaviour should group members adopt in relation to both the risk of being preyed upon and the individual investment in vigilance? Most models assume that individuals scan independently of one another. It is generally argued that it is more profitable for each group member owing to the cost that coordination of individual scans in non-overlapping bouts of vigilance would require. We studied the relationships between both individual and collective vigilance and group size in Defassa waterbuck, Kobus ellipsiprymnus defassa, in a population living under a predation risk. Our results confirmed that the proportion of time an individual spent in vigilance decreased with group size. However, the time during which at least one individual in the group scanned the environment (collective vigilance) increased. Analyses showed that individuals neither coordinated their scanning in an asynchronous way nor scanned independently of one another. On the contrary, scanning and non-scanning bouts were synchronized between group members, producing waves of collective vigilance. We claim that these waves are triggered by allelomimetic effects i.e. they are a phenomenon produced by an individual copying its neighbour's behaviour.
PMCID: PMC2176174  PMID: 17341457
vigilance; anti-predator behaviour; synchronization; allelomimesis; Defassa waterbuck; African antilope
7.  Effects of Reproductive Status, Social Rank, Sex and Group Size on Vigilance Patterns in Przewalski's Gazelle 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(2):e32607.
Quantifying vigilance and exploring the underlying mechanisms has been the subject of numerous studies. Less attention has focused on the complex interplay between contributing factors such as reproductive status, social rank, sex and group size. Reproductive status and social rank are of particular interest due to their association with mating behavior. Mating activities in rutting season may interfere with typical patterns of vigilance and possibly interact with social rank. In addition, balancing the tradeoff between vigilance and life maintenance may represent a challenge for gregarious ungulate species rutting under harsh winter conditions. We studied vigilance patterns in the endangered Przewalski's gazelle (Procapra przewalskii) during both the rutting and non-rutting seasons to examine these issues.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Field observations were carried out with focal sampling during rutting and non-rutting season in 2008–2009. Results indicated a complex interplay between reproductive status, social rank, sex and group size in determining vigilance in this species. Vigilance decreased with group size in female but not in male gazelles. Males scanned more frequently and thus spent more time vigilant than females. Compared to non-rutting season, gazelles increased time spent scanning at the expense of bedding in rutting season. During the rutting season, territorial males spent a large proportion of time on rutting activities and were less vigilant than non-territorial males. Although territorial males may share collective risk detection with harem females, we suggest that they are probably more vulnerable to predation because they seemed reluctant to leave rut stands under threats.
Vigilance behavior in Przewalski's gazelle was significantly affected by reproductive status, social rank, sex, group size and their complex interactions. These findings shed light on the mechanisms underlying vigilance patterns and the tradeoff between vigilance and other crucial activities.
PMCID: PMC3289666  PMID: 22389714
8.  Interspecific Semantic Alarm Call Recognition in the Solitary Sahamalaza Sportive Lemur, Lepilemur sahamalazensis 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(6):e67397.
As alarm calls indicate the presence of predators, the correct interpretation of alarm calls, including those of other species, is essential for predator avoidance. Conversely, communication calls of other species might indicate the perceived absence of a predator and hence allow a reduction in vigilance. This “eavesdropping” was demonstrated in birds and mammals, including lemur species. Interspecific communication between taxonomic groups has so far been reported in some reptiles and mammals, including three primate species. So far, neither semantic nor interspecific communication has been tested in a solitary and nocturnal lemur species. The aim of this study was to investigate if the nocturnal and solitary Sahamalaza sportive lemur, Lepilemur sahamalazensis, is able to access semantic information of sympatric species. During the day, this species faces the risk of falling prey to aerial and terrestrial predators and therefore shows high levels of vigilance. We presented alarm calls of the crested coua, the Madagascar magpie-robin and aerial, terrestrial and agitation alarm calls of the blue-eyed black lemur to 19 individual Sahamalaza sportive lemurs resting in tree holes. Songs of both bird species’ and contact calls of the blue-eyed black lemur were used as a control. After alarm calls of crested coua, Madagascar magpie-robin and aerial alarm of the blue-eyed black lemur, the lemurs scanned up and their vigilance increased significantly. After presentation of terrestrial alarm and agitation calls of the blue-eyed black lemur, the animals did not show significant changes in scanning direction or in the duration of vigilance. Sportive lemur vigilance decreased after playbacks of songs of the bird species and contact calls of blue-eyed black lemurs. Our results indicate that the Sahamalaza sportive lemur is capable of using information on predator presence as well as predator type of different sympatric species, using their referential signals to detect predators early, and that the lemurs’ reactions are based on experience and learning.
PMCID: PMC3692490  PMID: 23825658
9.  Balancing Energy Budget in a Central-Place Forager: Which Habitat to Select in a Heterogeneous Environment? 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(7):e102162.
Foraging animals are influenced by the distribution of food resources and predation risk that both vary in space and time. These constraints likely shape trade-offs involving time, energy, nutrition, and predator avoidance leading to a sequence of locations visited by individuals. According to the marginal-value theorem (MVT), a central-place forager must either increase load size or energy content when foraging farther from their central place. Although such a decision rule has the potential to shape movement and habitat selection patterns, few studies have addressed the mechanisms underlying habitat use at the landscape scale. Our objective was therefore to determine how Ring-billed gulls (Larus delawarensis) select their foraging habitats while nesting in a colony located in a heterogeneous landscape. Based on locations obtained by fine-scale GPS tracking, we used resource selection functions (RSFs) and residence time analyses to identify habitats selected by gulls for foraging during the incubation and brood rearing periods. We then combined this information to gull survey data, feeding rates, stomach contents, and calorimetric analyses to assess potential trade-offs. Throughout the breeding season, gulls selected landfills and transhipment sites that provided higher mean energy intake than agricultural lands or riparian habitats. They used landfills located farther from the colony where no deterrence program had been implemented but avoided those located closer where deterrence measures took place. On the other hand, gulls selected intensively cultured lands located relatively close to the colony during incubation. The number of gulls was then greater in fields covered by bare soil and peaked during soil preparation and seed sowing, which greatly increase food availability. Breeding Ring-billed gulls thus select habitats according to both their foraging profitability and distance from their nest while accounting for predation risk. This supports the predictions of the MVT for central-place foraging over large spatial scales.
PMCID: PMC4100874  PMID: 25029498
10.  Good foragers can also be good at detecting predators. 
The degree to which foraging and vigilance are mutually exclusive is crucial to understanding the management of the predation and starvation risk trade-off in animals. We tested whether wild-caught captive chaffinches that feed at a higher rate do so at the expense of their speed in responding to a model sparrowhawk flying nearby, and whether consistently good foragers will therefore tend to respond more slowly on average. First, we confirmed that the time taken to respond to the approaching predator depended on the rate of scanning: as head-up rate increased so chaffinches responded more quickly. However, against predictions, as peck rate increased so head-up rate increased and mean length of head-up and head-down periods decreased. Head-up rate was probably dependent on peck rate because almost every time a seed was found, a bird raised its head to handle it. Therefore chaffinches with higher peck rates responded more quickly. Individual chaffinches showed consistent durations of both their head-down and head-up periods and, therefore, individuals that were good foragers were also good detectors of predators. In relation to the broad range of species that have a similar foraging mode to chaffinches, our results have two major implications for predation/starvation risk trade-offs: (i) feeding rate can determine vigilance scanning patterns; and (ii) the best foragers can also be the best at detecting predators. We discuss how our results can be explained in mechanistic terms relating to fundamental differences in how the probabilities of detecting food rather than a predator are affected by time. In addition, our results offer a plausible explanation for the widely observed effect that vigilance continues to decline with group size even when there is no further benefit to reducing vigilance.
PMCID: PMC1691342  PMID: 12803897
11.  Human Disturbances, Habitat Characteristics and Social Environment Generate Sex-Specific Responses in Vigilance of Mediterranean Mouflon 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e82960.
In prey species, vigilance is an important part of the decision making process related to predation risk effects. Therefore, understanding the mechanisms shaping vigilance behavior provides relevant insights on factors influencing individual fitness. We investigated the role of extrinsic and intrinsic factors on vigilance behavior in Mediterranean mouflon (Ovis gmelini musimon×Ovis sp.) in a study site spatially and temporally contrasted in human pressures. Both sexes were less vigilant in the wildlife reserve compared to surrounding unprotected areas, except for males during the hunting period. During this period, males tended to be less strictly restricted to the reserve than females what might lead to a pervasive effect of hunting within the protected area, resulting in an increase in male vigilance. It might also be a rutting effect that did not occur in unprotected areas because males vigilance was already maximal in response to human disturbances. In both sexes, yearlings were less vigilant than adults, probably because they traded off vigilance for learning and energy acquisition and/or because they relied on adult experience present in the group. Similarly, non-reproductive females benefited of the vigilance effort provided by reproductive females when belonging to the same group. However, in the absence of reproductive females, non-reproductive females were as vigilant as reproductive females. Increasing group size was only found to reduce vigilance in females (up to 17.5%), not in males. We also showed sex-specific responses to habitat characteristics. Females increased their vigilance when habitat visibility decreased (up to 13.8%) whereas males increased their vigilance when feeding on low quality sites, i.e., when concomitant increase in chewing time can be devoted to vigilance with limited costs. Our global approach was able to disentangle the sex-specific sources of variation in mouflon vigilance and stressed the importance of reserves in managing and conserving wild sheep populations.
PMCID: PMC3875426  PMID: 24386131
12.  Short-Term Behavioural Responses of Impalas in Simulated Antipredator and Social Contexts 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e84970.
Prey animals often have to trade off foraging against vigilance. However, vigilance is costly and individuals are expected to adjust their vigilance and its cost in relation to social cues and their predation risk. To test this, we conducted playback experiments in the field to study how lions’ (Panthera leo) roars and male impalas’ (Aepyceros melampus) territorial vocalizations affected the vigilance and foraging behaviours as well as movements of female impalas. Our results show that impalas adjusted their activities in different ways depending on the vocalizations broadcast. After lions’ roars were played, female impalas increased their vigilance activity (in particular increasing their high-cost vigilance – vigilance without chewing), decreased their bite rates and increased their movements, whereas male impalas’ vocalizations caused females to decrease their vigilance (decreasing their low-cost vigilance – vigilance while chewing) and increase their movements without affecting their bite rates. Therefore, it appears that predators’ vocalizations stimulate anti-predator behaviours such as vigilance and movement at the expense of foraging, whereas males’ vocalizations increase individuals’ displacements at the expense of vigilance. Overall, this study shows that both predator and social cues have direct effects on the behaviour of gregarious prey and need to be considered in future studies.
PMCID: PMC3869902  PMID: 24376859
13.  Vigilance in a Cooperatively Breeding Primate 
Collective vigilance is considered a major advantage of group living in animals. We investigated vigilance behavior in wild mustached tamarins (Saguinus mystax), small, arboreal, cooperatively breeding New World primates that form stable mixed-species groups with saddleback tamarins (Saguinus fuscicollis). We aimed 1) to investigate whether vigilance patterns change according to individual activity and 2) to examine whether there is a social component of vigilance in their cooperative and nonaggressive society. We studied 11 factors that may influence vigilance and used this data to interpret the possible functions of vigilance. We observed 44 individuals in 3 mixed-species and 2 single-species groups of 2 populations that differed in population density and home range sizes. Vigilance changed greatly when individuals were engaged in different activities and individual vigilance was affected by different sets of factors depending on the activity. As vigilance decreased in proximity of conspecifics and heterospecifics when feeding, and in larger mixed-species groups when resting, we conclude that the predominant function of vigilance in mustached tamarins is predator related. However, the absence of the group size effect in very large single-species groups suggests that it may also function to maintain group cohesion. In the population with higher density and smaller home ranges individuals also increased their vigilance in home range overlap areas. We found no evidence that mustached tamarins monitor group mates to avoid food stealing or aggression. The effect of heterospecifics on individual vigilance suggests that collective vigilance might have been an important incentive in the evolution of tamarin mixed-species groups.
PMCID: PMC2819658  PMID: 20174438
group living; mixed-species groups; predation; Saguinus mystax; social vigilance; vigilance
14.  Sex-Related Differences in the Trade-Off between Foraging and Vigilance in a Granivorous Forager 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(7):e101598.
The relationship between intake rate and food density can provide the foundation for models that predict the spatiotemporal distribution of organisms across a range of resource densities. The functional response, describing the relationship between resource density and intake rate is often interpreted mechanistically as the relationships between times spend searching and handling. While several functional response models incorporate anti-predator vigilance (defined here as an interruption of feeding or some other activity to visually scan the environment, directed mainly towards detecting potential predators), the impacts of environmental factors influencing directly anti-predator vigilance remains unclear. We examined the combined effects of different scenarios of predation risk and food density on time allocation between foraging and anti-predator vigilance in a granivorous species. We experimentally exposed Skylarks to various cover heights and seed densities, and measured individual time budget and pecking and intake rates. Our results indicated that time devoted to different activities varied as a function of both seed density and cover height. Foraging time increased with seed density for all cover heights. Conversely, an increased cover height resulted in a decreased foraging time. Contrary to males, the decreased proportion of time spent foraging did not translate into a foraging disadvantage for females. When vegetation height was higher, females maintained similar pecking and intake rates compared to intermediate levels, while males consistently decreased their energy gain. This difference in anti-predator responses suggests a sexually mediated strategy in the food-safety trade-off: when resource density is high a females would adopt a camouflage strategy while an escape strategy would be adopted by males. In other words, males would leave risky-areas, whereas females would stay when resource density is high. Our results suggest that increased predation risk might generate sexually mediated behavioural responses that functional response models should perhaps better consider in the future.
PMCID: PMC4077796  PMID: 24984028
15.  White-Tailed Deer Vigilance: The Influence of Social and Environmental Factors 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e90652.
Vigilance behavior may directly affect fitness of prey animals, and understanding factors influencing vigilance may provide important insight into predator-prey interactions. We used 40,540 pictures taken withcamera traps in August 2011 and 2012to evaluate factors influencing individual vigilance behavior of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) while foraging at baited sites. We used binary logistic regression to determine if individual vigilance was affected by age, sex, and group size. Additionally, we evaluated whether the time of the day,moon phase,and presence of other non-predatorwildlife species impacted individual vigilance. Juveniles were 11% less vigilant at baited sites than adults. Females were 46% more vigilant when fawns were present. Males and females spent more time feeding as group size increased, but with each addition of 1 individual to a group, males increased feeding time by nearly double that of females. Individual vigilance fluctuated with time of day andwith moon phase but generally was least during diurnal and moonlit nocturnal hours, indicating deer have the ability to adjust vigilance behavior to changing predation risk associated with varyinglight intensity.White-tailed deer increased individual vigilance when other non-predator wildlife were present. Our data indicate that differential effects of environmental and social constraints on vigilance behavior between sexes may encourage sexual segregation in white-tailed deer.
PMCID: PMC3945222  PMID: 24599090
16.  Negotiation may lead selfish individuals to cooperate: the example of the collective vigilance game 
Game-theoretical models have been highly influential in behavioural ecology. However, these models generally assume that animals choose their action before observing the behaviour of their opponents while, in many natural situations, individuals in fact continuously react to the actions of others. A negotiation process then takes place and this may fundamentally influence the individual attitudes and the tendency to cooperate. Here, I use the classical model system of vigilance behaviour to demonstrate the consequences of such behavioural negotiation among selfish individuals, by predicting patterns of vigilance in a pair of animals foraging under threat of predation. I show that the game played by the animals and the resulting vigilance strategies take radically different forms, according to the way predation risk is shared in the pair. In particular, if predators choose their target at random, the prey respond by displaying moderate vigilance and taking turns scanning. By contrast, if the individual that takes flight later in an attack endures a higher risk of being targeted, vigilance increases and there is always at least one sentinel in the pair. Finally, when lagging behind its companion in fleeing from an attacker becomes extremely risky, vigilance decreases again and the animals scan simultaneously.
PMCID: PMC3367777  PMID: 22438502
antipredator behaviour; cooperation; evolutionarily stable strategies; game theory; negotiation; vigilance
17.  Chronic Upper Airway Obstruction Induces Abnormal Sleep/Wake Dynamics in Juvenile Rats 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(5):e97111.
Conventional scoring of sleep provides little information about the process of transitioning between vigilance-states. We used the state space technique to explore whether rats with chronic upper airway obstruction (UAO) have abnormal sleep/wake states, faster movements between states, or abnormal transitions between states.
The tracheae of 22-day-old Sprague-Dawley rats were surgically narrowed to increase upper airway resistance with no evidence for frank obstructed apneas or hypopneas; 24-h electroencephalography of sleep/wake recordings of UAO and sham-control animals was analyzed using state space technique. This non-categorical approach allows quantitative and unbiased examination of vigilance-states and state transitions. Measurements were performed 2 weeks post-surgery at baseline and following administration of ritanserin (5-HT2 receptor antagonist) the next day to stimulate sleep.
Measurements and Results
UAO rats spent less time in deep (delta-rich) slow wave sleep (SWS) and near transition zones between states. State transitions from light SWS to wake and vice versa and microarousals were more frequent and rapid in UAO rats, indicating that obstructed animals have more regions where vigilance-states are unstable. Ritanserin consolidated sleep in both groups by decreasing the number of microarousals and trajectories between wake and light SWS, and increasing deep SWS in UAO.
State space technique enables visualization of vigilance-state transitions and velocities that were not evident by traditional scoring methods. This analysis provides new quantitative assessment of abnormal vigilance-state dynamics in UAO in the absence of frank obstructed apneas or hypopneas.
PMCID: PMC4019644  PMID: 24824340
18.  Sleeping Birds Do Not Respond to Predator Odour 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(11):e27576.
During sleep animals are relatively unresponsive and unaware of their environment, and therefore, more exposed to predation risk than alert and awake animals. This vulnerability might influence when, where and how animals sleep depending on the risk of predation perceived before going to sleep. Less clear is whether animals remain sensitive to predation cues when already asleep.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We experimentally tested whether great tits are able to detect the chemical cues of a common nocturnal predator while sleeping. We predicted that birds exposed to the scent of a mammalian predator (mustelid) twice during the night would not go into torpor (which reduces their vigilance) and hence would not reduce their body temperature as much as control birds, exposed to the scent of another mammal that does not represent a danger for the birds (rabbit). As a consequence of the higher body temperature birds exposed to the scent of a predator are predicted to have a higher resting metabolic rate (RMR) and to lose more body mass. In the experiment, all birds decreased their body temperature during the night, but we did not find any influence of the treatment on body temperature, RMR, or body mass.
Our results suggest that birds are not able to detect predator chemical cues while sleeping. As a consequence, antipredatory strategies taken before sleep, such as roosting sites inspection, may be crucial to cope with the vulnerability to predation risk while sleeping.
PMCID: PMC3217974  PMID: 22110676
19.  Investigating Differences in Vigilance Tactic Use within and between the Sexes in Eastern Grey Kangaroos 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(9):e44801.
Aggregation is thought to enhance an animal’s security through effective predator detection and the dilution of risk. A decline in individual vigilance as group size increases is commonly reported in the literature and called the group size effect. However, to date, most of the research has only been directed toward examining whether this effect occurs at the population level. Few studies have explored the specific contributions of predator detection and risk dilution and the basis of individual differences in the use of vigilance tactics. We tested whether male and female (non-reproductive or with young) eastern grey kangaroos (Macropus giganteus) adopted different vigilance tactics when in mixed-sex groups and varied in their reliance on predator detection and/or risk dilution as group size changed. This species exhibits pronounced sexual dimorphism with females being much smaller than males, making them differentially vulnerable toward predators. We combined field observations with vigilance models describing the effects of detection and dilution on scanning rates as group size increased. We found that females with and without juveniles relied on predator detection and risk dilution, but the latter adjusted their vigilance to the proportion of females with juveniles within their group. Two models appeared to equally support the data for males suggesting that males, similarly to females, relied on predator detection and risk dilution but may also have adjusted their vigilance according to the proportion of mothers within their group. Differential vulnerability may cause sex differences in vigilance tactic use in this species. The presence of males within a group that do not, or only partially, contribute to predator detection and are less at risk may cause additional security costs to females. Our results call for reexamination of the classical view of the safety advantages of grouping to provide a more detailed functional interpretation of gregariousness.
PMCID: PMC3440314  PMID: 22984563
20.  Sleep-Disordered Breathing and Mortality: A Prospective Cohort Study 
PLoS Medicine  2009;6(8):e1000132.
In a cohort of 6,441 volunteers followed over an average of 8.2 years, Naresh Punjabi and colleagues find sleep-disordered breathing to be independently associated with mortality and identify predictive characteristics.
Sleep-disordered breathing is a common condition associated with adverse health outcomes including hypertension and cardiovascular disease. The overall objective of this study was to determine whether sleep-disordered breathing and its sequelae of intermittent hypoxemia and recurrent arousals are associated with mortality in a community sample of adults aged 40 years or older.
Methods and Findings
We prospectively examined whether sleep-disordered breathing was associated with an increased risk of death from any cause in 6,441 men and women participating in the Sleep Heart Health Study. Sleep-disordered breathing was assessed with the apnea–hypopnea index (AHI) based on an in-home polysomnogram. Survival analysis and proportional hazards regression models were used to calculate hazard ratios for mortality after adjusting for age, sex, race, smoking status, body mass index, and prevalent medical conditions. The average follow-up period for the cohort was 8.2 y during which 1,047 participants (587 men and 460 women) died. Compared to those without sleep-disordered breathing (AHI: <5 events/h), the fully adjusted hazard ratios for all-cause mortality in those with mild (AHI: 5.0–14.9 events/h), moderate (AHI: 15.0–29.9 events/h), and severe (AHI: ≥30.0 events/h) sleep-disordered breathing were 0.93 (95% CI: 0.80–1.08), 1.17 (95% CI: 0.97–1.42), and 1.46 (95% CI: 1.14–1.86), respectively. Stratified analyses by sex and age showed that the increased risk of death associated with severe sleep-disordered breathing was statistically significant in men aged 40–70 y (hazard ratio: 2.09; 95% CI: 1.31–3.33). Measures of sleep-related intermittent hypoxemia, but not sleep fragmentation, were independently associated with all-cause mortality. Coronary artery disease–related mortality associated with sleep-disordered breathing showed a pattern of association similar to all-cause mortality.
Sleep-disordered breathing is associated with all-cause mortality and specifically that due to coronary artery disease, particularly in men aged 40–70 y with severe sleep-disordered breathing.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
About 1 in 10 women and 1 in 4 men have a chronic condition called sleep-disordered breathing although most are unaware of their problem. Sleep-disordered breathing, which is commonest in middle-aged and elderly people, is characterized by numerous, brief (10 second or so) interruptions of breathing during sleep. These interruptions, which usually occur when relaxation of the upper airway muscles decreases airflow, lower the level of oxygen in the blood and, as a result, affected individuals are frequently aroused from deep sleep as they struggle to breathe. Symptoms of sleep-disordered breathing include loud snoring and daytime sleepiness. Treatments include lifestyle changes such as losing weight (excess fat around the neck increases airway collapse) and smoking cessation. Affected people can also use special devices to prevent them sleeping on their backs, but for severe sleep-disordered breathing, doctors often recommend continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), a machine that pressurizes the upper airway through a face mask to keep it open.
Why Was This Study Done?
Sleep-disordered breathing is a serious condition. It is associated with several adverse health conditions including coronary artery disease (narrowing of the blood vessels that supply the heart, a condition that can cause a heart attack) and daytime sleepiness that can affect an individual's driving ability. In addition, several clinic- and community-based studies suggest that sleep-disordered sleeping may increase a person's risk of dying. However, because these studies have been small and have often failed to allow for other conditions and characteristics that affect an individual's risk of dying (“confounding factors”), they provide inconsistent or incomplete information about the potential association between sleep-disordered breathing and the risk of death. In this prospective cohort study (part of the Sleep Heart Health Study, which is researching the effects of sleep-disordered breathing on cardiovascular health), the researchers examine whether sleep-disordered breathing is associated with all-cause mortality (death from any cause) in a large community sample of adults. A prospective cohort study is one in which a group of participants is enrolled and then followed forward in time (in this case for several years) to see what happens to them.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
At enrollment, the study participants—more than 6,000 people aged 40 years or older, none of whom were being treated for sleep-disordered breathing—had a health examination. Their night-time breathing, sleep patterns, and blood oxygen levels were also assessed and these data used to calculate each participant's apnea-hypopnea index (AHI)—the number of apneas and hypopneas per hour. During the study follow-up period, 1,047 participants died. Compared to participants without sleep-disordered sleeping, participants with severe sleep-disordered breathing (an AHI of ≥30) were about one and a half times as likely to die from any cause after adjustment for potential confounding factors. People with milder sleep-disordered breathing did not have a statistically significant increased risk of dying. After dividing the participants into subgroups according to their age and sex, men aged 40–70 years with severe sleep-disordered breathing had a statistically increased risk of dying from any cause (twice the risk of men of a similar age without sleep-disordered breathing). Finally, death from coronary artery disease was also associated with sleep-disordered breathing in men but not in women.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that sleep-disordered breathing is associated with an increased risk of all-cause mortality, particularly in men aged 40–70 years, even after allowing for known confounding factors. They also suggest that the increased risk of death is specifically associated with coronary artery disease although further studies are needed to confirm this finding because it was based on the analysis of a small subgroup of study participants. Although this study is much larger than previous investigations into the association between sleep-disordered breathing and all-cause mortality, it has several limitations including its reliance on a single night's measurements for the diagnosis of sleep-disordered breathing. Nevertheless, these findings suggest that clinical trials should now be started to assess whether treatment can reduce the increased risk of death that seems to be associated with this common disorder.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
The US National Heart Lung and Blood Institute has information (including a video) about sleep-disordered breathing (sleep apnea) (in English and Spanish)
The UK National Heath Service also provides information for patients about sleep apnea
MedlinePlus provides links to further information and advice about sleep-disordered breathing (in English and Spanish)
More information on the Sleep Heart Health Study is available
PMCID: PMC2722083  PMID: 19688045
21.  Individuals in foraging groups may use vocal cues when assessing their need for anti-predator vigilance 
Biology Letters  2007;3(3):249-252.
Many studies of social species have reported variation in the anti-predator vigilance behaviour of foraging individuals depending on the presence and relative position of other group members. However, little attention has focused on how foragers assess these variables. It is commonly assumed that they do so visually, but many social species produce frequent calls while foraging, and these ‘close’ calls might provide valuable spatial information. Here, we show that foraging pied babblers (Turdoides bicolor) are less vigilant when in larger groups, in the centre of a group and in closer proximity to another group member. We then show that foragers are less vigilant during playbacks of close calling by more individuals and individuals on either side of them when compared with calls of fewer individuals and calls on one side of them. These results suggest that foragers can use vocal cues to gain information on group size and their spatial position within a group. Future studies of anti-predator vigilance should consider the relative importance of both visual and vocal monitoring of group members.
PMCID: PMC2464705  PMID: 17426006
close calling; anti-predator vigilance; vocal communication; social foraging; social monitoring; vocal cues
22.  How Group Size Affects Vigilance Dynamics and Time Allocation Patterns: The Key Role of Imitation and Tempo 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(4):e18631.
In the context of social foraging, predator detection has been the subject of numerous studies, which acknowledge the adaptive response of the individual to the trade-off between feeding and vigilance. Typically, animals gain energy by increasing their feeding time and decreasing their vigilance effort with increasing group size, without increasing their risk of predation (‘group size effect’). Research on the biological utility of vigilance has prevailed over considerations of the mechanistic rules that link individual decisions to group behavior. With sheep as a model species, we identified how the behaviors of conspecifics affect the individual decisions to switch activity. We highlight a simple mechanism whereby the group size effect on collective vigilance dynamics is shaped by two key features: the magnitude of social amplification and intrinsic differences between foraging and scanning bout durations. Our results highlight a positive correlation between the duration of scanning and foraging bouts at the level of the group. This finding reveals the existence of groups with high and low rates of transition between activies, suggesting individual variations in the transition rate, or ‘tempo’. We present a mathematical model based on behavioral rules derived from experiments. Our theoretical predictions show that the system is robust in respect to variations in the propensity to imitate scanning and foraging, yet flexible in respect to differences in the duration of activity bouts. The model shows how individual decisions contribute to collective behavior patterns and how the group, in turn, facilitates individual-level adaptive responses.
PMCID: PMC3078120  PMID: 21525987
23.  Behavioral Responses Associated with a Human-Mediated Predator Shelter 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e94630.
Human activities in protected areas can affect wildlife populations in a similar manner to predation risk, causing increases in movement and vigilance, shifts in habitat use and changes in group size. Nevertheless, recent evidence indicates that in certain situations ungulate species may actually utilize areas associated with higher levels of human presence as a potential refuge from disturbance-sensitive predators. We now use four-years of behavioral activity budget data collected from pronghorn (Antilocapra americana) and elk (Cervus elephus) in Grand Teton National Park, USA to test whether predictable patterns of human presence can provide a shelter from predatory risk. Daily behavioral scans were conducted along two parallel sections of road that differed in traffic volume - with the main Teton Park Road experiencing vehicle use that was approximately thirty-fold greater than the River Road. At the busier Teton Park Road, both species of ungulate engaged in higher levels of feeding (27% increase in the proportion of pronghorn feeding and 21% increase for elk), lower levels of alert behavior (18% decrease for pronghorn and 9% decrease for elk) and formed smaller groups. These responses are commonly associated with reduced predatory threat. Pronghorn also exhibited a 30% increase in the proportion of individuals moving at the River Road as would be expected under greater exposure to predation risk. Our findings concur with the ‘predator shelter hypothesis’, suggesting that ungulates in GTNP use human presence as a potential refuge from predation risk, adjusting their behavior accordingly. Human activity has the potential to alter predator-prey interactions and drive trophic-mediated effects that could ultimately impact ecosystem function and biodiversity.
PMCID: PMC3981808  PMID: 24718624
24.  What Cues Do Ungulates Use to Assess Predation Risk in Dense Temperate Forests? 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e84607.
Anti-predator responses by ungulates can be based on habitat features or on the near-imminent threat of predators. In dense forest, cues that ungulates use to assess predation risk likely differ from half-open landscapes, as scent relative to sight is predicted to be more important. We studied, in the Białowieża Primeval Forest (Poland), whether perceived predation risk in red deer (Cervus elaphus) and wild boar (Sus scrofa) is related to habitat visibility or olfactory cues of a predator. We used camera traps in two different set-ups to record undisturbed ungulate behavior and fresh wolf (Canis lupus) scats as olfactory cue. Habitat visibility at fixed locations in deciduous old growth forest affected neither vigilance levels nor visitation rate and cumulative visitation time of both ungulate species. However, red deer showed a more than two-fold increase of vigilance level from 22% of the time present on control plots to 46% on experimental plots containing one wolf scat. Higher vigilance came at the expense of time spent foraging, which decreased from 32% to 12% while exposed to the wolf scat. These behavioral changes were most pronounced during the first week of the experiment but continuous monitoring of the plots suggested that they might last for several weeks. Wild boar did not show behavioral responses indicating higher perceived predation risk. Visitation rate and cumulative visitation time were not affected by the presence of a wolf scat in both ungulate species. The current study showed that perceived predation risk in red deer and wild boar is not related to habitat visibility in a dense forest ecosystem. However, olfactory cues of wolves affected foraging behavior of their preferred prey species red deer. We showed that odor of wolves in an ecologically equivalent dose is sufficient to create fine-scale risk factors for red deer.
PMCID: PMC3880296  PMID: 24404177
25.  Increased Sleep Fragmentation Leads to Impaired Off-Line Consolidation of Motor Memories in Humans 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(3):e34106.
A growing literature supports a role for sleep after training in long-term memory consolidation and enhancement. Consequently, interrupted sleep should result in cognitive deficits. Recent evidence from an animal study indeed showed that optimal memory consolidation during sleep requires a certain amount of uninterrupted sleep.
Sleep continuity is disrupted in various medical disorders. We compared performance on a motor sequence learning task (MST) in relatively young subjects with obstructive sleep apnea (n = 16; apnea-hypopnea index 17.1±2.6/h [SEM]) to a carefully matched control group (n = 15, apnea-hypopnea index 3.7±0.4/h, p<0.001. Apart from AHI, oxygen nadir and arousal index, there were no significant differences between groups in total sleep time, sleep efficiency and sleep architecture as well as subjective measures of sleepiness based on standard questionnaires. In addition performance on the psychomotor vigilance task (reaction time and lapses), which is highly sensitive to sleep deprivation showed no differences as well as initial learning performance during the training phase. However there was a significant difference in the primary outcome of immediate overnight improvement on the MST between the two groups (controls = 14.7±4%, patients = 1.1±3.6%; P = 0.023) as well as plateau performance (controls = 24.0±5.3%, patients = 10.1±2.0%; P = 0.017) and this difference was predicted by the arousal index (p = 0.02) rather than oxygen saturation (nadir and time below 90% saturation. Taken together, this outcome provides evidence that there is a clear minimum requirement of sleep continuity in humans to ensure optimal sleep dependent memory processes. It also provides important new information about the cognitive impact of obstructive sleep apnea and challenges its current definitions.
PMCID: PMC3314699  PMID: 22470524

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