Alarm Calls Affect Foraging Behavior in Eastern Chipmunks (Tamias striatus, Rodentia: Sciuridae)
Article first published online: 7 JUL 2008
Volume 106, Issue 12, pages 1057–1066, December 2000
How to Cite
Baack, J. K. and Switzer, P. V. (2000), Alarm Calls Affect Foraging Behavior in Eastern Chipmunks (Tamias striatus, Rodentia: Sciuridae). Ethology, 106: 1057–1066. doi: 10.1046/j.1439-0310.2000.00619.x
- Issue published online: 7 JUL 2008
- Article first published online: 7 JUL 2008
We used playback experiments to test whether alarm calls affected the foraging behavior of eastern chipmunks (Tamias striatus). We subjected chipmunks, foraging at artificial feeding stations, to three playback treatments (silent, control noise, and alarm call) and examined changes in vigilant and foraging behavior. Chipmunks responded to alarm calls with a greater degree and duration of vigilant behavior, such as look-ups and alert postures. Chipmunks also ran a shorter distance to cover and took longer to re-emerge from the burrow after hearing an alarm call. Alarm calls caused individuals to spend more time exposed at the feeding stations; however, individuals also took significantly fewer seeds after hearing an alarm call. This was not due to a difference in the time spent handling food, but rather to a slower rate of loading. Chipmunks appear to sacrifice energy gain by increasing vigilance after hearing an alarm call. This study suggests that to avoid the costs of unnecessary escape behavior, individuals directly assess their own risk rather than relying only on indirect cues such as alarm calls.