Skip to page content
USDA Forest Service

Research & Development Treesearch

Treesearch Home
About Treesearch
Contact Us
Research & Development
Forest Products Lab
International Institute of Tropical Forestry
Pacific Northwest
Pacific Southwest
Rocky Mountain
Southern Research Station
Help - We Participate  Government Made Easy

Global Forest Information Service

US Forest Service
P.O. Box 96090
Washington, D.C.

(202) 205-8333

You are here: Home / Search / Publication Information
Bookmark and Share

Publication Information

View PDF (284.0 KB bytes)

Title: When prey provide more than food: mammalian predators appropriating the refugia of their prey

Author: Zielinski, Bill;

Date: 2015

Source: Mammal Research. 60(4): 285-292

Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)

Description: Some mammalian predators acquire both food and shelter from their prey, by eating them and using the refugia the prey construct. I searched the literature for examples of predators that exhibit this behavior and summarize their taxonomic affiliations, relative sizes, and distributions. I hypothesized that size ratios of species involved in this dynamic would be near 1.0, and that most of these interactions would occur at intermediate and high latitudes. Seventeen species of Carnivorans exploited at least 23 species of herbivores as food and for their refugia. Most of them (76.4 %) were in the Mustelidae; several small species of canids and a few herpestids were exceptions. Surprisingly, the average predator/prey weight ratio was 10.51, but few species of predators were more than ten times the weight of the prey whose refugia they exploit. This may be why the long and thin Mustelines commonly exploit this habit. A number of predators appropriate the refugia of their key prey during winter when their prey occupies thermally secure nests. Indeed, most of the predator–prey pairs that engage in this relationship occur in intermediate and high latitudes, though there may be a reporting bias. Predators that depend on prey as food and for shelter, and whose fates are linked strongly to a few key prey species, may be particularly vulnerable to changes in climate that affect the subnivean habitats of their prey. Mammals that create refugia that can be used by other species (among them predators) may play disproportionately important roles in their communities.

Keywords: Predator–prey, Dens, Herbivore, Behavior, Habitat, Resting, Foraging

Publication Notes:

  • We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
  • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.



Zielinski, William J. 2015. When prey provide more than food: mammalian predators appropriating the refugia of their prey. Mammal Research. 60(4): 285-292.


 [ Get Acrobat ]  Get the latest version of the Adobe Acrobat reader or Acrobat Reader for Windows with Search and Accessibility

USDA logo which links to the department's national site. Forest Service logo which links to the agency's national site.