Psychology, Department of


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Published in Ethology 105:9 (1999), pp. 807–816; doi: 10.1046/j.1439-0310.1999.00458.x Copyright © 1999 Blackwell Wissenschafts-Verlag, Berlin. Used by permission.


Despite the success of antipredator vigilance research, the specific focus of this vigilance has been difficult to determine. We have previously shown that thirteen-lined ground squirrels (Spermophilus tridecemlineatus) increase their vigilance when their lateral field of view is obstructed. In this paper, we describe an experiment in which we attempt to determine the predator class for which this vigilance is directed. Using six differentially occluded Plexiglas foraging boxes with hinged “eaves,” we were able to obstruct the squirrels’ view of the sky while not obstructing their view of terrestrial threats. In general, across the box types, when their sky view was obstructed, ground squirrels increased their vigilance by increasing the percentage of time spent withdrawn from the boxes. This result suggests that a significant portion of ground squirrel antipredator vigilance is directed at the sky and is surveillance for aerial predators.