Prey must be vigilant when their predators are around.

Predators may affect mortality (and morbidity, i.e. loss of quality of life) through these mechanisms:

  1. Direct attacks, including injuries sustained if the prey manages to escape.

  2. Changes in the prey's foraging/hunting behavior which may restrict access to high-quality food sources.

  3. A chronic stress response, which in humans has been documented to increase mortality.

Have the health effects of chronic stress in wild prey populations been documented? Can the strength of effect (3) be comparable to (1) or (2)?

  • $\begingroup$ How would one do that, given that: the animals are wild, thus not under our supervision; our supervision (including observation, and capturing for bloodwork) would be stressful in itself; which animals are more stressed and which are less stressed? How to prove correlation/causation? There are some experiments or studies one can do with wild animals. This doesn't seem to be one of them. However, is there a reason to think, knowing this happens from humans and animal studies, to think it doesn't in wild animals? $\endgroup$ Jun 19 at 21:07
  • $\begingroup$ @anongoodnurse: The best way, besides some sort of implanted real-time monitoring system, is to use "sluggish" biochemical markers (similar to how A1C is a three-month moving average of sugar levels). Most likely such a study would "piggyback" on other studies which need to take samples. One hypothesis is that novel predatory risks cause more chronic stress than the predators a prey is "used to". Similar to humans not being adapted to the different type of stress we face in modern society. Selection pressure hasn't had the time to weed out the harmful long-term stress effects on the body. $\endgroup$ Jun 19 at 21:19
  • $\begingroup$ Do you know of any such markers? how would one know what caused the stress? Your desired info is very specific. $\endgroup$ Jun 20 at 10:54
  • $\begingroup$ Not specific to this, but somewhat similar studies of baboons by Sapolsky did look at chronic stress (related to social status). $\endgroup$ Jun 20 at 19:56


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