OBJECTIVE: In this study, the behavioral and physiological changes induced by experimentally varying the risk of predation in male mice fed a high-fat diet were examined. In particular, the study aimed to assess whether the risk of being predated modulates the body weight gain, providing an ecological context for the obesity resistance observed in many species of small mammals.
METHODS: Body weight, food intake, physical activity, and core body temperature of 35 male C57BL/6 mice were monitored for 20 days, while feeding a high-fat diet. A third of the animals were exposed to elevated risk of predation through exposure to the sounds of nocturnal predatory birds, and these were compared to animals exposed to a neutral noise or silence.
RESULTS: Male mice exposed to predation risk had significantly lower weight gain than the neutral or silent groups. Reduced food intake and increased physical activity were the main proximal factors explaining this effect. The risk of predation also induced changes in boldness.
CONCLUSIONS: This study provides evidence supporting the role of predation risk on body weight gain of small mammals.
- Diet, High-Fat
- Mice, Inbred C57BL
- Predatory Behavior
- Weight Gain