Spatial heterogeneity in risk is a critical component of predator-prey interactions. However, at small spatial scales, it is difficult to quantify predation risk without altering it. We used track plates to measure local predation risk created by white-footed mouse (Peromyscus leucopus) foraging activity on oak-forest plots in Millbrook, New York. Live gypsy moth pupae (Lymantria dispar) were placed at 2 heights on trees and monitored for predation. Pupae deployed on trees visited by mice were more likely to be eaten than those on trees not visited. Logistic regression indicated that predation rates on gypsy moth pupae were positively correlated with track activity, indicating that areas of concentrated mouse activity were areas of heightened risk for gypsy moths. Survival of individual oat grains placed on and 50 cm from track plates were not statistically different, indicating that mice exhibited no detectable behavioral reaction toward track plates. We conclude that track plates offer an economical and reliable means of quantifying local risk of attack by terrestrial mammals without substantially altering the spatial distribution of risk.
Connors, Matthew J., Schauber, Eric M., Forbes, Andrew, Jones, Clive G., Goodwin, Brett J. and Ostfeld, Richard S. "Use of Track Plates to Quantify Predation Risk at Small Spatial Scales." Journal of Mammalogy 86, No. 5 (Oct 2005): 991-996. doi:10.1644/1545-1542(2005)86[991:UOTPTQ]2.0.CO;2.