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Researcher's Results|Research Question 1

Research Goal:

The goal of this research is to investigate vigilant and feeding budgets of vicunas in habitats with different vegetation heights.

In other words, to find out how much of the time feeding vicunas spend looking around compared to the time they spend feeding.


Background information:

Because pumas depend on cover and stealth to approach and ambush their prey, vicunas will spend more time vigilant and less time feeding in the tall grass habitat. Pumas use tall grasses to hide and approach vicunas without being detected. This strategy would is impossible to use in the short grass habitat…there is no way pumas could hide here!


Hypothesis:

Because of the hunting strategy of pumas, vicunas should spend more time vigilant and less time foraging in tall grass habitats when compared to short grass habitats.


Predictions:

1. Vicuna foraging times will be greater in short grass habitat than in tall grass habitat.

2. Vicuna vigilant times will be greater in tall grass habitat than in short grass habitat.


Sample sizes:

Sample size (number of different individuals from which behavioral information is collected) is 5 for each habitat. Therefore, total sample size is 10 (two habitats [short and tall grass] and 5 different individuals observed in each of these habitats).


Data analysis:

The table and graph display the results Emiliano recorded for the time spent foraging and vigilant by every individual in all 10 videos. (There may be some variation in the times you recorded.)

Question 1 data table Question 1 graph


Summary:

Were feeding and vigilant times different in short and tall vegetation habitat? If they were, how were they different?

Yes, the feeding and vigilant times in the short and tall vegetation habitat were different.. Animals in the short grass habitat spent more time feeding than animals in the tall grass habitat. Also, animals in short grass habitat spent less time vigilant than animals in the tall grass habitat.

Were your hypothesis and predictions confirmed by the data?

Yes, the data confirmed the hypothesis that vicunas should spend more time vigilant and less time foraging in tall grass habitat when compared to short grass habitat. The data collected in the field agreed with this hypothesis and the predictions that vicuna foraging times would be greater in short grass habitat than in tall grass habitat and that vicuna vigilant times will be greater in tall grass habitat than in short grass habitat.

What inferences can you make about the causes of differences in vicuna behavior?

Vicunas grazing in tall grass habitat are occupying a risky habitat because the tall grasses can be used by pumas to ambush vicunas. It seems that vicunas are able to perceive this higher risk of being ambushed and therefore spend more time looking around searching for pumas that may be hiding in the tall grasses. Conversely, the short grass habitat does not favor pumas’ strategy of hiding and ambushing. Here, grasses are too short to conceal a puma!

Data recorded on behavior suggest that vicunas perceive the short grass habitat as less dangerous (or less risky) than the tall grass habitat. In fact, in the short grass habitat vicunas spend less time vigilant, looking around for predators, and more time feeding.

Continue to Research Question 2

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