In ecology, predation is a biological interaction where a predator (an organism that is hunting) feeds on its prey (the organism that is attacked). Predators may or may not kill their prey prior to feeding on them, but the act of predation often results in the death of its prey and the eventual absorption of the prey's tissue through consumption.
- When predators are capable of regulating prey populations, then they may indirectly influence both the composition and biomass of plant communities by releasing them from herbivory.
- Predation is probably as old as (cellular) life itself, and it is likely to have existed in many different forms and at many different levels during the formative phases of the Cambrian explosion (which culminated between 550 and 540 Ma)
- Stefan Bengtson in: Origins And Early Evolution Of Predation, Naturhistoriska riksmuseet: Startsida (nrm.se)
- Each predator directly exerts a negative effect upon its prey, but predators may also provide indirect benefits to their prey. In ecosystems, such benefits are effected via indirect trophic pathways that can provide a more than compensating positive influence. The ecosystem of the Big Cypress National Preserve (southwest Florida) appears to contain an unusually high number of such predators—most notably, the American alligator, Alligator mississippiensis... the predation by alligators on snakes and turtles accounts for most of the trophic benefits bestowed. The actions of alligators in modifying their physical environment contributes to the maintenance of biotic diversity. It appears that the trophic influence of this species adds further evidence to the important role it plays in the functional ecology of the cypress wetland.
- Cristina Bondavalli, Robert E. Ulanowicz in:Unexpected Effects of Predators Upon Their Prey: The Case of the American Alligator, Springer Link
- Predation, in animal behaviour, [is] the pursuit, capture, and killing of animals for food. Predatory animals may be solitary hunters, like the leopard, or they may be group hunters, like wolves.
- The senses of predators are adapted in a variety of ways to facilitate hunting behaviour. Visual acuity is great in raptors such as the red-tailed hawk, which soars on high searching for prey. Even on a dark night owls can hear, and focus on, the rustling sound and movement of a mouse.
- Encyclopedia Britannica in: "prey"
- Many insect-eating bats hunt by echolocation, emitting a pulsed, high-frequency sound—in the manner of a ship's sonar—while flying; the sensory data thus gained guides them to their prey.
- Encyclopedia Britannica in: "prey"
- A flock of white pelicans will cooperate to form a semicircle and, with much flapping of wings, drive fish into shallow water where they are easily captured.
- Encyclopedia Britannica in: "prey"
- Although predation has likely played a central role in the evolution of primate socioecology, we currently lack a thorough understanding of how fine-scale variation in perceived predation risk affects primates' short-term space use patterns and predator avoidance strategies. White-faced capuchins (Cebus capucinus) monkeys perceive reduced predation risk in the high and middle forest layers, and they adjust their vigilance behavior to small-scale spatial variation in perceived risk.
- Fernando A. Campos, Linda M. Fedigan in: Spatial ecology of perceived predation risk and vigilance behavior in white-faced capuchins, Behavioral Ecology Journal
- Stotting appears to inform the predator that it has been detected, but it does not invite or deter the predator from pursuing the Gazelle, it informs the mother that the neonate has been disturbed and is in need of defence. In addition, mothers whose neonates escaped capture by cheetahs stotted significantly more during the attempt than mothers whose neonates were caught.
- T.M. Caro in: The functions of stotting in Thomson's gazelles: some tests of the predictions in Animal Behaviour Volume 34, Issue 3, June 1986, Pages 663–684, Science Direct Journal
- Predation is an important selective force in evolution and is generally assumed to select against substandard individuals, i.e. the young, senescent, sick, or individuals in poor physical condition.
Raptors did not hunt randomly, but rather preferentially predate on juveniles, sick gulls, and individuals with poor muscle condition. Strikingly, gulls with an unusually good muscle condition were also predated more than expected, supporting the mass-dependent predation risk theory.
- Meritxell Genovart, et al The Young, the Weak and the Sick: Evidence of Natural Selection by Predation, PLOS One, March 19, 2010
- Psychopaths are social predators, and like all predators, they are looking for feeding grounds. Wherever you get power, prestige and money, you will find them.
- For many animals, alarm calls are more than simple squawks of fear. Vervet monkeys, for instance, use different sounds to warn of different types of predator. "Leopard!" is not the same as "snake!" or "eagle!" If you hide a loudspeaker in the bushes, and startle unsuspecting monkeys by playing recordings of "snake!" at them, they will look around at the ground. "Eagle!" makes them look up. "Leopard!" sends them scampering to the trees.
- Meerkats — those charismatic mongooses that stand on their hind legs to scan for predators — give calls that announce both the general type of predator (coming from the sky, coming from the ground) and how close it is — in other words, how urgently everyone should react. Black-capped chickadees — small songbirds that live in North America — have calls that say whether a predator is flying or resting, and if it is resting, how dangerous it is.
- Olivia Judson in: "Leopard Behind You!"
- Predators sometimes respond too. After all, alarm calls don't just let other animals know there's danger in the area. They can also let a predator know that it's been seen. Ambush predators, like leopards, often give up and go away once an alarm has been sounded.
- Olivia Judson in: "Leopard Behind You!"
- Most Australian mammals are now protected by law to some degree, but this protection has come too late to prevent the endangerment of many species that, like the Tasmanian Tiger, may yet face extinction. Massive human predation of koalas for their fur and to clear land for farming and building, for example, coupled with ongoing loss of habitat, has meant that these iconic Australian animals are no longer a common sight across their once extensive range.
- Today, snares remain prevalent around the world. They are used in subsistence and commercial hunting (including the fur trade), poaching (including the bushmeat trade), recreational bushcraft, population control, predator and "pset" species control and occasionally research.
- Libby Anderson, Snares and snaring, in: Andrew Linzey (ed. by), The Global Guide to Animal Protection, University of Illinois Press, 2013, p. 79
- Firefly females of the genus Photuris, long known to be carnivorous, attract and devour males of the genus Photinus by mimicking the flash-responses of Photinus females.
- James E. Lloyd in: Aggressive Mimicry in Photuris: Firefly Femmes Fatales in Science 6 August 1965: Vol. 149 no. 3684 pp. 653-654, sciencemag.org
- Animals do not survive by rational thought (nor by sign languages allegedly taught to them by psychologists). They survive through inborn reflexes and sensory-perceptual association. They cannot reason. They cannot learn a code of ethics. A lion is not immoral for eating a zebra (or even for attacking a man). Predation is their natural and only means of survival; they do not have the capacity to learn any other.
- ...the most vicious predators, like most dread disease-causing microbes, bring about their own ruin by killing their victims. Restrained predation—the attack that doesn't kill or does kill only slowly—is a recurring theme in evolution. The predatory precursors of mitochondria invaded and exploited their hosts, but the prey resisted. Forced to be content with an expendable part of the prey (its waste)... some mitochondria precursors grew but never killed their providers. ...The original prey was probably a larger bacterium... - Leslie A. Real]]
- Lynn Margulis in: Microcosmos: Four Billion Years of Evolution from Our Microbial Ancestors (1986), University of California Press, 1986, p. 130
- The endangered western stock of the Steller sea lion (Eumetopias jubatus) – the largest of the eared seals – has declined by 80% from population levels encountered four decades ago. Current overall trends from the Gulf of Alaska to the Aleutian Islands appear neutral with strong regional heterogeneities...[studies] suggest predation on juvenile sea lions as the largest impediment to recovery of the species in the eastern Gulf of Alaska region...[study conclusion also suggests] the distinct possibility of predation as a major component of Steller sea lion population dynamics in particular at intermediate and low abundance levels.
- Markus Horning, Jo-Ann E. Mellish in: Predation on an Upper Trophic Marine Predator, the Steller Sea Lion: Evaluating High Juvenile Mortality in a Density Dependent Conceptual Framework, PMC , US National Library of Medicine
- Why tinker with the plain truth that we hurry the darker races to their graves in order to take their land & its riches? Wolves don't sit in their caves, concocting crapulous theories of race to justify devouring a flock of sheep! "Intellectual courage"? True "intellectual courage" is to dispense with these fig leaves & admit all peoples are predatory, but White predators, with our deadly duet of disease dust & firearms, are examplars of predacity par excellence, & what of it?
- 'You didn't build that' will be Obama's political epitaph: With these remarks, Obama has come out of the closet as a most odious collectivist, who believes religiously that government predation is a condition for production Or, put simply, that the parasite created the host.
- Predators make it much more difficult to find consensus. It's a lot easier to agree about birds and plants than about animals that endanger people and livestock.
- Gale Norton in: David Knibb Grizzly Wars: The Public Fight Over the Great Bear, Eastern Washington University Press, Jan 1, 2008, p. 258
- It is easy to romanticise, say, tigers or lions and cats. We admire their magnificent beauty, strength and agility. But we would regard their notional human counterparts as wanton psychopaths of the worst kind.
- Think about Praying Mantis. The deadliest ninja predator. Why isn't his animus a lion or a polar bear - two of the most successful killing machines in the animal kingdom? The answer is that these animals would not be right for him. Think how a praying mantis is invisible on a leaf, how they are carnivores who will devour their own species. The female will even eat her own partner once they've mated and, as hatchlings, their first meal is often one of their own siblings. These are the things that matter to Praying Mantis - and if you study his attributes, they are elements that will help you defeat him.
- At the top of the pyramid—the terminal step—is a population of predators not generally subject to predation themselves.
- David Quammen in: Monster of God: The Man-Eating Predator in the Jungles of History and the Mind, W. W. Norton & Company, 17 September 2004
- Predators merely remove surplus animals, ones that would succumb even in the absence of natural enemies. P.L. Errington exempts certain predator-prey relations from this scheme, however, and quotes the predation of wolves on deer as an example where predation probably is not related to the carrying capacity of the habitat.
- Leslie A. Real, James H. Brown in: Foundations of Ecology: Classic Papers with Commentaries, University of Chicago Press, 20 December 2012, p. 526
- Remove the predators, and the whole ecosystem begins to crash like a house of cards. As the sharks disappear, the predator-prey balance dramatically shifts, and the health of our oceans declines.
- I think that most people would associate big schools of fish with healthy coral reefs. At Kingman, the predators keep the herd thin, so there aren't a lot of big fish schools.
- Brian Skerry in: Field Notes Interview by Amanda MacEvitt and Glynnis McPhee, National Geographic Magazine - NGM.com
- For many decades, ecology textbooks presented classical competition theory without reservation. The central principle here is that two species sharing an essential resource that is in limited supply cannot coexist for long because the competitively superior species will eliminate the other one. The implication is that ecological communities should be characterized by division of resources among species, or niche partitioning.
Predation and physical disturbance inflict so much damage on biotas of the seafloor that populations of one species seldom monopolize a potentially limiting resource, except sporadically and locally. As a result, it is uncommon for any species to drive another to extinction through competitive exclusion—or even to force another species to drastically change its exploitation of any environmental resource throughout its geographic range.
- Naysayers at their polite best chided the rewilders for romanticizing the past; at their sniping worst, for tempting a 'Jurassic Park' disaster. To these the rewilders quietly voiced a sad and stinging reply. The most dangerous experiment is already underway. The future most to be feared is the one now dictated by the status quo. In vanquishing our most fearsome beasts from the modern world, we have released worse monsters from the compound. They come in disarmingly meek and insidious forms, in chewing plagues of hoofed beasts and sweeping hordes of rats and cats and second-order predators. They come in the form of denuded seascapes and barren forests, ruled by jellyfish and urchins, killer deer and sociopathic monkeys. They come as haunting demons of the human mind. In conquering the fearsome beasts, the conquerors had unwittingly orphaned themselves.
- William Stolzenburg in: Where the Wild Things Were: Life, Death, and Ecological Wreckage in a Land of Vanishing Predators, Bloomsbury Publishing USA, Jan 15, 2011
- Heartless though it may seem to some, among the least harmful things to eat are sustainably culled wild animals. In the absence of natural predators, deer populations in parts of Britain have reached such dense numbers that the woodlands they browse fail to regenerate.
- Nature can be cruel. Predators are everywhere. Those who don't need to be protected from outside forces often need to be protected from themselves. In society, women are referred to as "the fairer sex". But in the wild, the female species can be far more ferocious than their male counterparts. Defending the nest is both our oldest and strongest instinct. And sometimes, it can also be the most gratifying.
- When the predatory habit of life has been settled upon the group by long habituation, it becomes the able-bodied man's accredited office in the social economy or elude him, to overcome and reduce to subservience those alien forces that assert themselves refractorily in the environment.
- Thorstein Veblen in: The Theory of the Leisure Class: An Economic Study of Institutions, B. W. Huebsch, 1912, p. 14-15
- Predation can not become the habitual, conventional resource of any group or any class until industrial methods have been developed to such a degree of efficiency as to leave a margin worth fighting for, above the subsistence of those engaged in getting a living....The early development of tools and of weapons is of course the same fact seen from two different points of view. ...The predatory phase of culture is therefore conceived to come on gradually.
- Thorstein Veblen in: "The Theory of the Leisure Class: An Economic Study of Institutions", p. 20
- What had been released into the desert vacuum and starry oases of the galaxy was the inexorable logic of reproduction and natural selection. What followed was parasitism, predation, symbiosis, interdependency—chaos, complexity, life.
- Well, let me tell you, ants are the dominant insects. They make up as much as a quarter of the biomass of all insects in the world. They are the principal predators. They're the cemetery workers.
- E. O. Wilson in: David Pogue An Interview With E.O. Wilson, the Father of the Encyclopedia of Life, The New York Times, October 23, 2008
- In prehistoric times, Homo sapiens were deeply endangered. Early humans were less fleet of foot, with fewer natural weapons and less well-honed senses than all the predators that threatened them. Moreover, they were hampered in their movements by the need to protect their uniquely immature young - juicy meals for any hungry beast.
Ecology of Predator-Prey InteractionsEdit
- What is a predator? The answer is relatively straightforward for many species: an animal that eats another animal. However, recent research has shown that for other species the answer is more complex and that predatory species may not be as diet-limited as previously assumed.
- In: p. 1
- Regardless of whether one defines predator-prey interactions narrowly or broadly, what is clear is that at one point or another in the lives of most animals they are predators, prey, or both.
- In: p. 2
- Variation in plant food, especially flowers, has a strong effect on the dispersal of most omnivorous insect predators.
- In: p. 8
- Historically, predation and competition has received much more attention than mutualism. This bias is exemplified in the attention given to inter-specific interactions in ecology textbooks.
- In: p. 18
- An individual's response to local predation risk is shaped by the conflicting demands of predator avoidance and the benefits associated with a suite of fitness-related behaviors, such as foraging, mating and terrestrial defense.
- Grant E. Brown, Douglas P. Chivers, in: p. 34
- ...predator avoidance can lead to delayed ontogenetic niche shifts, resulting in decreased growth rates
- A. C. Olson, et al., (1995) in: p. 35
- Trinidadian guppies from a high-predation population exhibited a more intense antipredator response than conspecifics from a low-predation-risk population.
- J. L. Kelley, A. E. Magurran (2003) in: p. 35
- Populations exposed to varying predation threats, over time, may be selected toward the use of a learned response, because it would allow individuals to optimize the threat-sensitive trade-offs between survival and other fitness related benefits.
- In: p. 36
- Whether a species is a traditional predator (or an omnivore), or whether it responds to predation risk with fixed rather than learned behaviors, its success as a predator or a prey is determined by the capacity and efficiency of its sensory organs.
- In: p. 73
- Interactions between predators and prey are a major driving force for evolution and adaptation in animals. In any single encounter, the prey has more at stake, because failure means death, whereas the predator misses only a feeding opportunity.
- In: p. 78
- Flying insects can exhibit other characteristics that protect them from bat predation (which may also reduce the selective pressure for evolving auditory defenses). In rare cases, nocturnal insects reduce their exposure to bat predation by becoming diurnal (and restricting their amount of time that they fly at night) or by flying only at dusk before bats emerge.
- J.H. Fullard, et al., in: p. 84
- A more common strategy some insects employ to avoid bad predation is to continue flying at night but to vary their seasonal activity (either just after or before bats hibernate).
- O. Svensson, et al., in: p. 84
- Both predation and predator evasion are expensive and themselves dangerous. Some of the costs are metabolic, and these costs have been studied at length. Potentially more important, however, are the structural and behavioral trade-offs animals must make to be successful predators or long lived prey.
- In: p. 98
- The ability of animals to perceive changes in predation risk forms the foundation on which the nonlethal effects of predators are transmitted to prey populations and communities.
- Steven L. Lima, Todd D. Steury in: p. 166
- Recent neurological work suggests that the amygdala (in the vertebrate midbrain) is a key component in the assessment of predation risk and that differences in risk perception may reflect differences in the neural architecture of the amygdala.
- In: p. 167
- Sensory compensation is probably common in animals, for just about every species has at least two sensory modes that might be directed toward predator detection.
- A. Mathis and F. Vincent (2000) in: p. 172
- The Challenge of Eating versus Being Eaten: Most prey that respond to predators also face a trade-off between increased survival in the presence of predators and slower growth and development. For example, many species of rotifers and cladocerons develop spines in response to fish and invertebrate predators.
- In: p. 193
- The extent that habitat structure influences spatial processes (e.g., numerical responses of predators, their inter-habitat dispersal, edge effects, and thus the coupling of predator-prey interactions in habitats compromised by human activity (e.g., fragmented landscapes) is also of immediate concern in conservation biology.
- D.T. Bolger, et al., in: p. 213
- Diverse feeding habits might act to buffer predator populations against fluctuations in nutrient availability of particular prey species.
- Micky D. Eubanks, Robert F. Denno (1999) in: p. 377