The Three Mouse That Were Lost In The Woods

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To analyse factors triggering mouse handling of plastic bottles, a binomial distribution logit link GLM was performed measuring the response variable which was deemed the presence or absence of bite marks on the plastic bottles. Furthermore, to assess feeding effort, we used a GLM with a normal distribution and identity link, being the response variable linked to the missing area gnawed by each mouse in each bottle, measured in pixels. We also employed a GLM with normal distribution and identity link to test variation in food intake.

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Because mice did not need to gnaw open bottles to obtain the bait provided and due to the statistically significant relationship between food access with the extension of the gnawed area by mice, we only considered data from closed bottles for this correlation analysis. The software used to perform the statistical analysis was SPSS The total number of captures was , corresponding to 84 different individuals. The results of the binomial model showed that food access, recapture, predation risk, and the interaction between food access and moonlight were the factors which best explained the presence of bite marks in bottles Table 1.

For predation risk influence, we found bite marks in Regarding the interaction between food access and moonlight, we found that mice bite marks were less frequently found in open bottles during new moon nights In contrast, bite marks appeared in the majority of the closed bottles independently of the moon phase: new moon nights recorded Results of the GLM analysing mouse feeding effort i.

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The average area gnawed by mice in open bottles was lower Overall, first-capture mice gnawed an average area of Furthermore, the interaction between food access and moonlight showed that mice gnawed particularly broad areas of the closed bottles during new moon nights Results of the GLM testing mice-food intake Table 3 revealed that the main factors explaining it were food access treatment, recapture, and the interaction between food access treatments and moonlight.

Individuals ate more in the open bottle treatments 2. Additionally, first-time capture mice exhibited a decreased intake 1. Moreover, the interaction between food access treatment and moonlight showed that mice intake was particularly low during medium moonlight nights when facing the closed bottle treatment 1. Finally, a correlation analysis showed that there was a positive correlation between the effort made i.

To our knowledge, this is the first study which provides evidence of the importance of experience and perceived predation risk in wood mouse feeding efforts and their decision-making process. As expected, food access difficulty determined the presence of bite marks in the bottles, indicating that the mice understood the implications of the feeding devices since they tended to spend extra energy on food handling only if it was mandatory i.

The presence of some bite marks and openings made by the mice in open bottles could be considered as exploratory behaviour to acquire information about the new food resource, because animals that learn faster about the value the environment can have higher fitness gains due to a more efficient exploitation [ 10 ]. Moreover, some biting and chewing not aimed to obtain food could have appeared as a stress-coping mechanism for being confined. Predator cues also affected the mouse decision-making process: in this case, fox chemical signals seem to have a stimulating effect which prompted individuals to interact with the food containers.

Predator scents have been previously demonstrated to modify food intake [ 8 , 11 ]; however, the direction of this association is not clear since there is evidence of both an increase and a decrease in the food intake. In our study, we hypothesise that traps could have provided the mice with a safe space to handle the food resources [ 8 , 37 ]. As a consequence, these mice may have chosen to feed because they were sheltered against predator attacks.

Alternatively, predation risk could have triggered physiological stress response in mice [ 16 ] and the immediate mobilisation of energy could have stimulated the mouse to bite the food containers. Regarding the food access and moonlight interaction effect, while mice facing open bottles were more reluctant to try to get access to food during new moon nights, the moonlight did not influence mouse behaviour when the bottles were closed. When experiencing closed bottles, mice are compelled to bite the containers to obtain the food despite predation risk cues. In this particular setting, the prospect of obtaining a potentially highly nutritious food could counterbalance the risk of being detected [ 38 , 39 ].

However, when biting the food containers is not required to accomplish feeding, individuals behave differently depending upon indirect predator cues. When moonlight was low, bite marks were less frequent on open bottles. We presume that gnawing the bottles can be noisy and thus, it can increase exposure to predators relying on auditory cues to detect prey [ 40 ].

This result seems to indicate that individuals were attempting to reduce the probability of being detected by eating the food through the opening in the bottle instead of gnawing it. In accordance with the previous results, food access difficulty determined the extent of mouse feeding endeavour, demonstrating that individuals optimally adjust their energy expenditure depending on food accessibility. Experience and learning have proved to be excellent adaptive features when it comes to feeding [ 10 , 41 ], making individuals extremely resourceful and giving them the essential responses to survive in highly variable environments.

Our study showed that experience prompted individuals to invest energy in attempting to gain food access and the skill of the procedure seems to be more efficient, since they managed to perforate a wider area of the bottles. On the other hand, we need to consider that a wider gnawed area could have been also explained by increasing feeding efforts and not only because of a skill improvement. In addition, the positive correlation found between the gnawed area and food intake confirmed that the endeavour they performed was justified, spending more energy only if they could counterbalance the feeding costs associated with that effort [ 42 ].

Our results indicate that mice are fast learners, improving their skill two-fold with only a single previous encounter with the food containers. However, this endeavour was only significantly improved in mice facing closed bottles, demonstrating again the ability of individuals to make efficient energy-budget decisions. The relevance of experience and learning upon mice feeding efforts is clear, providing mice the opportunity to exploit new food resources in a relatively short amount of time.

Despite the fact that learning feeding techniques can have expensive associated costs in terms of energy and time [ 41 ], the highly variable natural living conditions could have induced the development of this remarkable evolutionary strategy by enhancing individual mouse fitness [ 11 , 43 ].

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Contrary to our predictions, predator faecal cues did not affect mouse feeding effort. Nevertheless, this result would be in accordance with other studies that discovered no effect of predator cues on feeding behaviour [ 12 , 13 ]. As we suggested previously, traps could have been perceived as a refuge against predators, allowing them to feed in a secure environment [ 8 , 37 ]. Another plausible explanation would be that due to individuals remaining several hours under the influence of predation cues, they must resume their feeding activity in order to not compromise their survival [ 43 , 46 ].

As for the influence of the interaction between food access and moonlight on feeding effort, new moon nights were associated with increased feeding efforts when individuals were dealing with the more arduous treatment i. This result gives us direct insight of mouse decision-making and the behavioural response elicited when a trade-off between predation risk and feeding is presented see predation risk allocation hypothesis [ 43 ].

According to this theory, individuals would increase feeding effort during new moon phases when the perceived predation risk is low, since moonlight can increase prey detectability and hence, hunting success for predators [ 44 , 45 ]. Thus, darker nights caused mice to feel safer, allowing individuals to spend energy in the device. On the contrary, a rise in perceived predation risk caused by the increase in moonlight probably caused mice to maintain a low profile and to choose survival over increasing their exposure for handling the food resource, even though the energetic reward was high.

Furthermore, according to the optimal foraging theory, when predators are present, mice would stop feeding sooner because the marginal value of food relative to safety was lower. This result is in accordance with previous studies that show how mouse activity and food intake diminish with the increase in night luminosity [ 12 , 23 ].

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The variation found regarding this effect on the open vs. In the open bottle treatment, mice can quietly feed through the opening. In contrast, mice are forced to chew the closed bottles to obtain the food, which it can be potentially noisy and requires increased locomotory activity. Consequently, mice may have felt safer in performing this task during low predation risk i.

Wood mouse intake was modulated by food access restrictions and previous experience with the food containers. Mice decreased their food intake in closed bottles since the difficulty in obtaining food was particularly high. Also, it has been suggested that high handling costs can decrease food intake in unpredictable settings [ 47 ]; thus, individuals do not allocate too much energy in obtaining food if the prospect of acquiring it is not certain.

For the recapture effect, it appears that previous experience with the food containers is crucial: when a new food resource appears, animals must gather information and assess the value of the new food before exploiting it [ 9 , 10 ]. Therefore, the lower food intake found in first-time captured individuals could be explained by this phenomenon. Recaptured individuals had already learned the true value of the corn, they do not need to allocate time in assessing it, and thus, they can focus directly on feeding.

Although we expected a decrease in food intake in traps treated with fox faeces it appears that the presence of predator faeces does not affect food intake in this setting. As discussed above, the shelter provided by the traps against predators could have allow the mice to not interrupt foraging [ 8 , 37 ]. Since mice remained trapped during the whole night, it may not be fitness-enhancing to stop feeding for such long periods of time [ 43 , 46 ].

Regarding the interaction between food access and moon phases, it follows the same pattern as feeding efforts in the closed bottles. The higher predation risk perceived during medium moonlight nights caused a diminished food consumption due to the luminosity enhancing predator ability to detect the mice, so they chose to reduce their foraging effort because the marginal value of food in relation to safety may be considered lower.

On the contrary, during the open bottle treatments, they did not need to chew the bottle to obtain the food, which would be potentially noisy, so mice did not decrease feeding because they could feed through the opening in the bottles. Finally, we found that individual variables such as breeding condition, sex, and weight, had no effects on feeding behaviour. Although this was not expected, the results clearly show that these factors were not determinant, and that experience and moonlight were the phenomena which modulated wood mice feeding choices and their efforts when a new source of food was made available.

The wood mouse plays a key role in forest ecosystems, being a pivotal part of the diet of many often-endangered predators [ 48 , 49 ]. These results provide certain hope about the resilience and plasticity of mice populations, frequently subjected to human-induced changes that can modify food resources and its availability.

Browse Subject Areas? Click through the PLOS taxonomy to find articles in your field. Abstract Animals making foraging decisions must balance the energy gained, the time invested, and the influence of key environmental factors. Data Availability: Data has been uploaded as a Supporting Information file. Funding: The authors received no specific funding for this work.

Town Mouse and Country Mouse

Introduction According to the optimal foraging theory, choices made by animals when foraging and selecting food aim to maximise fitness [ 1 , 2 , 3 ]. Live-trapping and data collection Two trapping sessions were carried out in March and in four plots with similar vegetation and composition. Predation risk simulation To simulate predation risk, we used red fox faeces since this species is known to be present in the study area [ 11 , 25 ], being one of the most common small mammal predators [ 28 , 29 ].

Food access experiments All traps were subjected to two different consecutive food-access treatments in which food-access difficulty was experimentally manipulated using polyurethane plastic bottles of 6 cm length, 2. Statistical analysis Since model residuals were not normally distributed, behavioural responses were analysed using Generalized Linear Models GLMs. Results Bite marks The total number of captures was , corresponding to 84 different individuals. Download: PPT. Table 1. Results of the binomial logit GLM analysing the effects of individual, environmental, and experimental factors on the absence or presence of bite marks made by the mice in the plastic bottles.

Feeding efforts Results of the GLM analysing mouse feeding effort i. Table 2. Fig 1. Fig 2. Food intake Results of the GLM testing mice-food intake Table 3 revealed that the main factors explaining it were food access treatment, recapture, and the interaction between food access treatments and moonlight. Table 3. Results of the GLM testing the effects of individual, environmental, and experimental factors on mouse food intake g. Fig 3. Discussion Bite marks To our knowledge, this is the first study which provides evidence of the importance of experience and perceived predation risk in wood mouse feeding efforts and their decision-making process.

Feeding efforts In accordance with the previous results, food access difficulty determined the extent of mouse feeding endeavour, demonstrating that individuals optimally adjust their energy expenditure depending on food accessibility. Food intake Wood mouse intake was modulated by food access restrictions and previous experience with the food containers.

Supporting information. S1 Data. Data collected and analysed in the present study. References 1. Optimal foraging: a selective review of theory and tests.


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The quarterly review of biology. View Article Google Scholar 2. Schoener TW. Theory of feeding strategies. Annual review of ecology and systematics. View Article Google Scholar 3. Foraging theory. Silanikove N. The physiological basis of adaptation in goats to harsh environments. Small Ruminant Research. View Article Google Scholar 5. Inheritance of acquired behaviour adaptations and brain gene expression in chickens. PloS one. Toates FM. The control of ingestive behaviour by internal and external stimuli—A theoretical review.

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PLoS One. Antipredatory response and food intake in wood mice Apodemus sylvaticus under simulated predation risk by resident and novel carnivorous predators. Does predation risk, through moon phase and predator cues, modulate food intake, antipredatory and physiological responses in wood mice Apodemus sylvaticus? Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology. Foraging, feeding, and physiological stress responses of wild wood mice to increased illumination and common genet cues.

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Behavioral decisions made under the risk of predation: a review and prospectus. Canadian Journal of Zoology. How great was her surprise when she found that the field mouse had spoken the truth; her garner was full of nuts and grain and other stores, and her mouth watered when she saw all the riches which were stored up there. Then she turned to the field mouse and said, "Oh, yes, you have here a nice snug place and something to live upon, but you should come to my house and see what I have there. Your stock is as nothing compared with the riches which are mine. The field mouse, who was rather simple by nature and trusted her new friend, went with her into the town to see what better things the other could have.

She had never been into the town and did not know what her friend could mean when she boasted of her greater riches. So they went together, and the town mouse took her friend to her master's house. He was a grocer, and there were boxes and sacks full of every good thing the heart of a mouse could desire. When she saw all these riches, the field mouse said she could never have believed it, had she not seen it with her own eyes.

While they were talking together, who should come in but the cat. As soon as the town mouse saw the cat, she slipped quietly behind a box and hid herself. Her friend, who had never yet seen a cat, turned to her and asked her who that gentleman was who had come in so quietly. Why, he is our priest, and he has come to see me. You must go and pay your respects to him and kiss his hand. See what a beautiful glossy coat he has on, and how his eyes sparkle, and how demurely he keeps his hands in the sleeves of his coat. Not suspecting anything, the field mouse did as she was told and went up to the cat.

He gave her at once his blessing, and the mouse had no need of another after that. The cat gave her extreme unction there and then. That was just what the town mouse had intended. When she saw how well stored the home of the field mouse was, she made up her mind to trap her and to kill her, so that she might take possession of all that the field mouse had gathered up.

She had learned the ways of the townspeople and had acted up to them. The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse Norway Once upon a time a town mouse met a country mouse on the outskirts of a wood. The country mouse was sitting under a hazel thicket plucking nuts. And then she related how well she lived and how comfortable she was at home. The town mouse, however, declared she was best off. And as they could not agree on this point they promised to visit one another at Christmas, then they could see for themselves which was really the most comfortable.

Now, although the country mouse had moved down form the mountains for the winter, the road was long and tiring, and one had to travel up hill and down dale. The snow lay thick and deep, so the town mouse found it hard work to get on, and she became both tired and hungry before she reached the end of her journey. The country mouse had scraped together the best she had. There were nut kernels, polypoly and other sorts of roots, and many other good things which grow in woods and fields.

She kept it all in a hole far under the ground, so the frost could not reach it, and close by was a running spring, open all the winter, so she could drink as much water as she liked. There was an abundance of all she had, and they ate both well and heartily. But the town mouse thought it was very poor fare indeed. Now you must be good enough to visit me and taste what we have.

Yes, that she would, and before long she set out. The town mouse had gathered together all the scraps from the Christmas fare which the woman of the house had dropped on the floor during the holidays -- bits of cheese, butter and tallow ends, cake crumbs, pastry, and many other good things.

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In the dish under the ale tap she had drink enough. In fact, the place was full of all kinds of dainties. They ate and fared well. The country mouse seemed never to have had enough. She had never tasted such delicacies. But then she became thirsty, for she found the food both strong and rich, and now she wanted something to drink. She did not drink too much, for she knew the Christmas beer was strong. The country mouse, however, thought the beer a splendid drink.