Ben Hirsch

Ben Hirsch
James Cook University · Department of Tropical Biology

PhD

About

55
Publications
19,417
Reads
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1,669
Citations
Additional affiliations
October 2011 - present
The Ohio State University
Position
  • PostDoc Position
October 2008 - October 2010
Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute
Position
  • PostDoc Position
Position
  • Courses taught 2007- Resident Professor
Education
August 1998 - December 2006
August 1993 - May 1997
Emory University
Field of study

Publications

Publications (55)
Article
Full-text available
Male and female reproductive behaviour is typically synchronised. In species such as those in the family Cervidae , reproductive timing is often cued by photoperiod, although in females, it can be dependent on body condition. When a species is introduced to a novel environment, the environment changes, or responses of the sexes to such cues differ,...
Article
Full-text available
Invasive mesopredators are responsible for the decline of many species of native mammals worldwide. Feral cats have been causally linked to multiple extinctions of Australian mammals since European colonization. While feral cats are found throughout Australia, most research has been undertaken in arid habitats, thus there is a limited understanding...
Article
Full-text available
The complex, interconnected, and non-contiguous nature of canopy environments present unique cognitive, locomotor, and sensory challenges to their animal inhabitants. Animal movement through forest canopies is constrained; unlike most aquatic or aerial habitats, the three-dimensional space of a forest canopy is not fully realized or available to th...
Article
Full-text available
Aim Climate change is driving species to migrate to novel areas as current environments become unsuitable. As a result, species distributions have shifted uphill in montane ecosystems globally. Heterogeneous dispersal rates among shifting species could result in complex changes to community assemblages. For example, interspecific differences in dis...
Preprint
Invasive mesopredators, particularly feral cats, are responsible for the decline of many species of native mammals worldwide. In Australia, there is currently limited understanding of the drivers of feral cat occupancy in tropical rainforests, the most biodiverse ecosystem in the continent. We carried out camera-trapping surveys at 108 sites across...
Article
Full-text available
Home‐range estimates are a common product of animal tracking data, as each range represents the area needed by a given individual. Population‐level inference of home‐range areas—where multiple individual home ranges are considered to be sampled from a population—is also important to evaluate changes over time, space or covariates such as habitat qu...
Article
Full-text available
Animal movement along repeatedly used, "habitual" routes could emerge from a variety of cognitive mechanisms, as well as in response to a diverse set of environmental features. Because of the high conservation value of identifying wildlife movement corridors, there has been extensive work focusing on environmental factors that contribute to the eme...
Article
Full-text available
Species are not uniformly distributed across the landscape. For every species, there should be few favoured sites where abundance is high and many other sites of lower suitability where abundance is low. Consequently, local abundance could be thought of as a natural expression of species response to local conditions. The correlation between abundan...
Preprint
Full-text available
· Home-range estimates are a common product of animal tracking data, as each range informs on the area needed by a given individual. Population-level inference on home-range areas—where multiple individual home-ranges are considered to be sampled from a population—is also important to evaluate changes over time, space, or covariates, such as habita...
Article
Full-text available
Aim We propose that forest trees create a vertical dimension for ecological niche variation that generates different regimes of climatic exposure, which in turn drives species elevation distributions. We test this hypothesis by statistically modelling the vertical and elevation distributions and microclimate exposure of rainforest ants. Location W...
Article
Full-text available
When introduced to new ecosystems, species' populations often grow immediately postrelease. Some introduced species, however, maintain a low population size for years or decades before sudden, rapid population growth is observed. Because exponential population growth always starts slowly, it can be difficult to distinguish species experiencing the...
Article
Full-text available
Ecologists have long been interested in linking individual behavior with higher‐level processes. For motile species, this ‘upscaling’ is governed by how well any given movement strategy maximizes encounters with positive factors, and minimizes encounters with negative factors. Despite the importance of encounter events for a broad range of ecologic...
Preprint
Full-text available
1. Ecologists have long been interested in linking individual behavior with higher-level processes. For motile species, this 'upscaling' is governed by how well any given movement strategy maximizes encounters with positive factors, and minimizes encounters with negative factors. Despite the importance of encounter events for a broad range of ecolo...
Article
Full-text available
Accurately quantifying species’ area requirements is a prerequisite for effective area‐based conservation. This typically involves collecting tracking data on species of interest and then conducting home‐range analyses. Problematically, autocorrelation in tracking data can result in space needs being severely underestimated. Based on previous work,...
Article
Full-text available
Social foraging models are often used to explain how group size can affect an individual’s food intake rate and foraging strategies. The proportion of food eaten before the arrival of conspecifics, the finder’s share, is hypothesized to play a major role in shaping group geometry, foraging strategy, and feeding competition. The variables that affec...
Chapter
Coati species exhibit a level of sociality uncommon among carnivores, and coatis can provide a valuable test of models relating ecology to social behaviour. This chapter draws principally on the authors’ research in Panama (Nasua narica) and Argentina (Nasua nasua), but also discuss insights gained from work conducted in the United States, Mexico,...
Article
The timing of raccoon rabies outbreaks in the eastern USA is non-random and often exhibits a seasonal peak. While fluctuations in disease transmission can be driven by seasonal changes in animal population dynamics, behaviour, and physiology, it is still unclear which causal factors lead to seasonal outbreaks of raccoon rabies. 2.We used dynamic ne...
Article
Full-text available
Infectious disease transmission often depends on the contact structure of host populations. Although it is often challenging to capture the contact structure in wild animals, new technology has enabled biologists to obtain detailed temporal information on wildlife social contacts. In this study, we investigated the effects of raccoon contact patter...
Article
Insectivorous mammals are hypothesized to reduce the abundance of their insect prey. Using a 14-yr mammal exclusion experiment, we demonstrate for the first time that a widespread and abundant Neotropical mammalian insectivore (Tamandua: Tamandua mexicana) reduced Azteca ant abundance. Azteca ant nests inside mammal exclosures were significantly la...
Article
Full-text available
Foraging activity in animals reflects a compromise between acquiring food and avoiding predation. The risk allocation hypothesis predicts that prey animals optimize this balance by concentrating their foraging activity at times of relatively low predation risk, as much as their energy status permits, but empirical evidence is scarce. We used a uniq...
Article
Full-text available
Abstract Mammals often use latrine sites for defecation, yet little is known about patterns of latrine use in many common species such as raccoons (Procyon lotor). Because raccoon latrines are important foci for the transmission of raccoon roundworm (Baylisascaris procyonis), documenting metrics of raccoon latrine use may have public health implica...
Data
Raccoons are an important vector of rabies and other pathogens. The degree to which these pathogens can spread through a raccoon population should be closely linked to association rates between individual raccoons. Most studies of raccoon sociality have found patterns consistent with low levels of social connectivity within populations, thus the li...
Article
Full-text available
Raccoons are an important vector of rabies and other pathogens. The degree to which these pathogens can spread through a raccoon population should be closely linked to association rates between individual raccoons. Most studies of raccoon sociality have found patterns consistent with low levels of social connectivity within populations, thus the li...
Data
Raccoons are generally regarded as solitary, yet several studies have found that raccoons frequently form social affiliations. One benefit to sociality in many mammal species is that relatives and close associates can form coali-tions against third parties during agonistic encounters. We tested whether raccoon dominance patterns were influenced by...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Background/Question/Methods The number and duration of contacts made between individuals in wildlife populations can be highly heterogeneous. These differences can be at the individual level, with some individuals tending to make more contacts than others. Also, there can be dramatic changes in contacts throughout the whole population, for exampl...
Conference Paper
Contact network models are a flexible approach for investigating disease dynamics, and have provided epidemiological insight across a wide range of wild animal social systems. While flexible and powerful, this methodology is hampered by lack of detailed contact data. I will discuss traditional and new technology based strategies for collecting suff...
Article
The mechanisms that shape animal movement decisions at the level of an individual or a group of animals can scale up to affect larger-scale ecological processes. Ecologists often use mechanistic animal movement models to understand these links, but animal movement models rarely connect empirically with an understanding of how animals actually decid...
Data
The mechanisms by which food-hoarding animals are capable of remembering the locations of numerous cached food items over long time spans has been the focus of intensive research. The 'memory enhancement hypothesis' states that hoarders reinforce spatial memory of their caches by repeatedly revisiting cache sites, yet no study has documented this b...
Data
Full-text available
We tested the hypothesis that prey refuges attract predators, leading to elevated predator activity in the vicinity of refuges.We used camera traps to determine whether the spatial activity of a predator, the ocelot (Leopardus pardalis), was biased toward refuge locations of its principal prey, the agouti (Dasyprocta punctata). We radio-tracked ago...
Data
Full-text available
MS. number: A12-00643R3 Keywords: association home range overlap homophily kinship Procyon lotor rabies racoon relatedness social network socioecology Social assortativity, preferentially associating with certain individuals, is a widespread behaviour among a diverse range of taxa. Animals often choose to associate with other individuals based on c...
Article
Social assortativity, preferentially associating with certain individuals, is a widespread behaviour among a diverse range of taxa. Animals often choose to associate with other individuals based on characteristics such as sex, age, body size, rank and genetic relatedness. These preferences can scale up to shape the overall social structure of an an...
Article
Full-text available
Scatter-hoarding animals spread out cached seeds to reduce density-dependent theft of their food reserves. This behaviour could lead to directed dispersal into areas with lower densities of conspecific trees, where seed and seedling survival are higher, and could profoundly affect the spatial structure of plant communities. We tested this hypothesi...
Article
Full-text available
The Neotropics have many plant species that seem to be adapted for seed dispersal by megafauna that went extinct in the late Pleistocene. Given the crucial importance of seed dispersal for plant persistence, it remains a mystery how these plants have survived more than 10,000 y without their mutualist dispersers. Here we present support for the hyp...
Article
Full-text available
The seeds of many tree species are dispersed more than once, and this secondary seed dispersal is believed to enhance seedling recruitment. However, the effectiveness of secondary seed dis-persal has rarely been assessed because it is difficult to track seeds until they die or germinate. We describe a new technique that uses thread tags attached to...
Article
Full-text available
Animal groups typically contain individuals with varying degrees of genetic relatedness, and this variation in kinship has a major influence on patterns of aggression and affiliative behaviors. This link between kinship and social behavior underlies socioecological models which have been developed to explain how and why different types of animal so...
Article
Animals that rely on refuges for safety can theoretically increase their foraging area without simultaneously increasing predation risk and travel costs by using more refuges. The key prediction of this theory, a negative correlation between food abundance, home range size and the number of refuges used, has never been empirically tested. We determ...
Article
Full-text available
How do animals use their habitat? Where do they go and what do they do? These basic questions are key not only to understanding a species' ecology and evolution, but also for addressing many of the environmental challenges we currently face, including problems posed by invasive species, the spread of zoonotic diseases and declines in wildlife popul...
Conference Paper
Background/Question/Methods Seed dispersal and the role played by seed dispersers are important factors which affect forest dynamics and species distribution. Large seeded plant species such as Astrocaryum standleyanum are thought to be difficult to disperse effectively because the seeds are too large to be swallowed by most extant mammals. The m...
Article
Full-text available
Predation is a major pressure that shapes animal sociality, but predation risk is not homogenous within groups. Animals located on the group edge typically face an increased threat of predation, although different patterns have been reported. We created a simulation model to determine how changes in predator attack distance and prey density influen...
Article
Full-text available
The location of an animal within a social group has important effects on feeding success. When animals consume quickly eaten food items, individuals located at the front edge of a group typically have greater foraging success. When groups feed at large clumped resources, dominant individuals can often monopolize the resource, leading to higher feed...
Article
Full-text available
A variety of factors can influence an individual's choice of within-group spatial position. For terrestrial social animals, predation, feeding success, and social competition are thought to be three of the most important variables. The relative importance of these three factors was investigated in groups of ring-tailed coatis (Nasua nasua) in Iguaz...
Article
Comparing CTR-derived estimates of seed dispersal kernels vs. the true kernel showed that the CTR method can accurately estimate the dispersal kernel using truncated seed-tracking data. It should also be possible to reanalyse data from previously published studies to extract complete dispersal kernels, provided that the search radius is reported an...
Article
Full-text available
The ring-tailed coati (Nasua nasua) is the only coati species in which social groups contain an adult male year round, although most males live solitarily. We compared reproductive success of group living and solitary adult male coatis to determine the degree to which sociality affects reproductive success. Coati mating is highly seasonal and group...
Article
Full-text available
The distance at which an animal can detect food has important ramifications for foraging behavior. Although some studies have investigated the factors which affect visual food detection, very little is known about what influences olfactory food detection abilities in wild animals. The food discovery behavior of ring-tailed coatis (Nasua nasua) was...
Article
Full-text available
There is widespread evidence that feeding ecology can lead to differences in mammalian social systems. To understand how diet and ecology affect the social behavior of ring-tailed coatis (Nasua nasua), detailed measures of feeding behavior were recorded from 2 well-studied groups over a 2-year period. The proportion of fruit and invertebrates in th...
Article
Full-text available
Ring-tailed coatis exhibit an extreme form of juvenile agonism not found in other social mammals. Two groups of habituated, individually recognized, coatis were studied over a 2.5-yr period in Iguazu National Park, Argentina. Dominance matrices were divided by year and group, resulting in four dominance hierarchies which were analyzed using the Mat...
Article
Full-text available
An animal's within-group spatial position has several important fitness consequences. Risk of predation, time spent engaging in antipredatory behavior and feeding competition can all vary with respect to spatial position. Previous research has found evidence that feeding rates are higher at the group edge in many species, but these studies have not...
Article
Full-text available
Individuals living in social groups are predicted to live under unequal predation risk due to their spatial location within the group. Previous work has indicated that individuals located at the edge of groups have higher "domains of danger", thus are more likely to engage in vigilance or antipredator behavior. We studied the determinants of vigila...
Article
I investigated the vigilance behavior of brown capuchin monkeys (Cebus apella) in Iguazu, Argentina to determine the relative importance of anti-predatory vigilance versus social monitoring. Predator detection has been found to be the major factor driving vigilance patterns in other populations of Cebus, and a positive relationship between vigilanc...

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Projects

Projects (2)
Archived project
This set of projects is aimed at understanding what circumstances make the Central American Agouti - a large scatter-hoarding rodent - a good seed disperser.