Risk-sensitive foraging theory predicts that predators which face starvation if there is a temporary shortfall in their food supply should choose feeding sites on the basis of variation in as well as mean expected reward rate. For a given mean reward rate they should choose high variance feeding sites (be risk-prone) if they are running below energy requirement, but low variance sites (be risk-averse) if they are running above. Common shrews presented with a choice between constant and variable feeding stations were more likely to visit the variable station when they were running below energy requirement and more likely to visit the constant station when they were running above. However, the tendency towards risk-aversion above requirement was greater than that towards risk-proneness below. When all shrews were considered together, the probability of visiting the variable station correlated negatively and continuously with intake relative to requirement.

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