6.14: Predation - Biology

6.14: Predation - Biology

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What may be the most common way different species interact?

Biomes as different as deserts and wetlands share something very important. All biomes have populations of interacting species. Species interact in the same basic ways in all biomes. For example, all biomes have some species that prey on others for food.


Predation is a relationship in which members of one species (the predator) consume members of another species (the prey). The lionesses and zebra in Figure below are classic examples of predators and prey. In addition to the lionesses, there is another predator in this figure. Can you spot it? The other predator is the zebra. Like the lionesses, it consumes prey species, in this case species of grass. However, unlike the lionesses, the zebra does not kill its prey. Predator-prey relationships such as these account for most energy transfers in food chains and food webs.

Predators and Their Prey. These lionesses feed on the carcass of a zebra.

Predation and Population

A predator-prey relationship tends to keep the populations of both species in balance. This is shown by the graph in Figure below. As the prey population increases, there is more food for predators. So, after a slight lag, the predator population increases as well. As the number of predators increases, more prey are captured. As a result, the prey population starts to decrease. What happens to the predator population then?

Predator-Prey Population Dynamics. As the prey population increases, why does the predator population also increase?

In the predator-prey example, one factor limits the growth of the other factor. As the prey population deceases, the predator population is begins to decrease as well. The prey population is a limiting factor. A limiting factor limits the growth or development of an organism, population, or process.

Keystone Species

Some predator species are known as keystone species. A keystone species is one that plays an especially important role in its community. Major changes in the numbers of a keystone species affect the populations of many other species in the community. For example, some sea star species are keystone species in coral reef communities. The sea stars prey on mussels and sea urchins, which have no other natural predators. If sea stars were removed from a coral reef community, mussel and sea urchin populations would have explosive growth. This, in turn, would drive out most other species. In the end, the coral reef community would be destroyed.

Adaptations to Predation

Both predators and prey have adaptations to predation that evolve through natural selection. Predator adaptations help them capture prey. Prey adaptations help them avoid predators. A common adaptation in both predator and prey is camouflage. Several examples are shown in Figure below. Camouflage in prey helps them hide from predators. Camouflage in predators helps them sneak up on prey.

Camouflage in Predator and Prey Species. Can you see the crab in the photo on the left? It is camouflaged with the sand. The preying mantis in the middle photo looks just like the dead leaves in the background. Can you tell where one zebra ends and another one begins? This may confuse a predator and give the zebras a chance to run away.


  • Predation is a relationship in which members of one species (the predator) consume members of another species (the prey).
  • A predator-prey relationship keeps the populations of both species in balance.


  1. Describe the relationship between a predator population and the population of its prey.
  2. What is a keystone species? Give an example.
  3. What is a limiting factor?
  4. What is the role of camouflage in prey and predator?

Predation: Definition, Types, and Example

Predation refers to a flow of energy between two organisms, predator and prey. In this interaction, the prey loses energy, and the predator gains energy.

The word ‘predation’ derives from the Latin word praedari, meaning ‘to plunder’.Predation includes carnivory, as well as interactions like grazing, parasitism, and symbiotic mutualism. The process of eating seeds and eggs is also considered a form of predation.

Eat Prey, Live

In predation, one organism, the predator, locates and eats another, the prey. Often the prey is killed. Predators come in all forms and sizes, and include spiders, toads, snakes, tigers, wolves and sharks. Predation affects individual organisms: one survives and the other dies. It also has an impact on the species. If predators go about their business successfully, their numbers will be on the rise, while the quantity of prey decreases. Although we generally think of predators as animals, some plants, such as the Venus fly trap, don’t produce all of their own food from photosynthesis. They also feed on insects they’ve captured. Bacteria can be predators, too, preying on other tiny organisms to get energy for life functions.


Predation Definition
Predation refers to an interaction between two organisms, predator and prey, where there is a flow of energy from one to another. The prey usually suffers a loss of energy and fitness, with a commensurate gain in energy for the predator.

Predation is the consumption of one organism by another. Predation occurs when one organism benefits from killing another. Herbivores, parasites, and parasitoids can also be considered predators.
predation predator herbivore parasite parasitoid .

Jump to: navigation, search
"Predator" and "prey" redirect here. For other uses of "predator", see Predator (disambiguation). For other uses of "prey", see Prey (disambiguation).

and Defense - Biology Encyclopedia forum
« Porter, Keith
Primate » .

. Cats have long been known to have a negative ecological impact.

and Herbivory
Figure 1. The cycling of snowshoe hare and lynx populations in Northern Ontario is an example of predator-prey dynamics.

, competition, and disease
Main article: Coextinction
Effects .

An interaction between species in which one species, the predator, eats the other, the prey.
[L. praedari, to prey upon from prehendere, to grasp, seize] .

One of the biological interactions that can limit population growth occurs when organisms kill and consume other living organisms.

The derivation of an organism of elements essential for its existence from organisms of other species that it consumes and destroys. The ingestion of prey by a predator for energy and nutrients.
predator An organism that preys on other organisms for its food.

: (predaceous, predacious, predator, prey, predators) An interaction between organisms in which one organism, the predator, kills and eats the other organism, the prey.

by insect larvae that live in fresh water favors faster-moving fish with less armor.

, in which seed-eating weevils eat plant seeds.

is a strong, selective pressure that drives prey organisms to find ways to avoid being eaten. Prey organisms that are difficult to find, catch or consume are the ones that will survive and reproduce.

. The consumption of one organism by another
Predator. An organism that consumes another living organism (carnivores and herbivores are both predators by this definition) .

: When one animal hunts and feeds on another animal
Predator: An animal that hunts and feeds on prey
Predict: Use what is already known to make a statement about what will happen in the future.

, parasitism is a type of consumer-resource interaction,[3] but unlike predators, parasites, with the exception of parasitoids, are typically much smaller than their hosts, do not kill them, and often live in or on their hosts for an extended period.

on a massive, heavily-armored dinosaur illustrates just how dangerous the dinosaur predators of the Cretaceous must have been," says Brown.
The nodosaur no doubt holds plenty of other answers, and researchers are now studying the preserved contents of its stomach to learn more about its diet.

, giving nature and example, and balance between predator/prey populations (relative population sizes, that are rarely stable, and periodically fluctuate) .

: An organism that lives by killing and consuming other living things. Eg - Ladybirds kill greenfly.
Parasitism : Living organism that feeds on another living organism of a different species knows as host, generally causing harm to the host.

population group of individuals of the same species that live in the same area positive feedback loop is created when the body produces a response that increases the stimuluspotential energy stored energy, ready for use precision describes how close together measurements are to each other

animal which eats meat and which derives its energy requirements from a diet consisting mainly or exclusively of animal tissue whether through

or scavenging
a reaction which releases energy and breaks down molecules
Chlorophyll .

In the above cases, mutations appeared which gave resistance to

. Mutations which confer resistance to parasites have also been seen in studies of bacteria growing in chemostats.

An organism that derives its energy and nutrient requirements from a diet consisting mainly or exclusively of animal tissue, whether through

or scavenging. ( 2. An animal that feeds on flesh. (Google Dictionary) 3. A mammal of the order Carnivora. (Google Dictionary) 4.

If the trees have evolved in response to their seed predators, we should observe geographic differences in pinecones: where squirrels are the main seed predator, trees should have stronger defenses against squirrel

, and where birds are the main seed predator, .

How is extracorporeal digestion in arachnids linked to

Arachnids can inject poison to paralyze or kill their prey by using structures called chelicerae. The prey is partially digested outside the body of the arachnid by digestive enzymes injected together with the venom or afterwards.

A disadvantage is that the offspring are out in the environment and

can account for large loss of offspring. The embryos are susceptible to changes in the environment, which further depletes their numbers.

These barnacles and mussels, without

by the starfish, would come to dominate the community. In a classic 1966 study, Robert Paine removed starfish from enclosures. In those enclosures where the starfish were removed, the number of species in the community dropped from fifteen to eight.

In most generations, more offspring are born than can survive to reproductive age given selection pressures such as

The most significant relation is the relation of

(to eat or to be eaten), which leads to the essential concepts in ecology of food chains (for example, the grass is consumed by the herbivore, itself consumed by a carnivore, itself consumed by a carnivore of larger size).

Endangered Species: The entire population of organisms (plant or animal) that face extinction due to a steady reduction of their numbers. This may be the outcome of environmental changes, loss of habitat, or

Predator Prey Relationship and Population Dynamics

In some predator prey relationship examples, the predator really only has one prey item. In these scenarios, it is easy to see how the predator prey relationship affects the population dynamics of each species. A simple example is the predator prey relationship between the lynx and the snowshoe hare. The hare forms a large staple in the lynx diet. Without the hare, the lynx would starve. However, as the lynx eats the hare, or many hares, it can reproduce. Thus, the lynx population expands. With more lynx hunting, the hare population rapidly declines. Look at the graph below.

The blue shows the population of lynx, while the red shows the population of hares. At the start of the graph, the lynx population was very high, which the hare population was relatively low. As the lynx started to migrate away, or die off, the hare population rebounded. Since 1845, this 10 year pattern has continued to repeat itself, with a lynx die off coming right after the hare die off. The predator prey relationship between the hare and the lynx helps drive this pattern. However, if you average out the peaks of the population, both populations would hold stable or show only a slight increase or decrease over time.

Remember also that the hare also has a predator prey relationship with the organisms it feeds on, which happen to be plants. As the hares explode, they eat more than the vegetation can support, and they are driven into starvation. That, plus their predator prey relationship with the lynx, makes for very volatile shifts in population.


Study Area

The study was undertaken with the support of the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP) Problem Animal Control (PAC) unit within the Ministry of Environment Wildlife and Tourism. Fieldwork was conducted under the Botswana Predator Conservation Trust’s (BPCT) long-running large predator research programme in northern Botswana (Research Permit EWT 8/36/4 XXXVIII (14)), and approval was granted by UNSW’s Animal Care & Ethics Committee (approval number 17/51 A).

The ∼ 1300 km 2 study area encompasses a rural livestock area abutting a protected area (the south-eastern region of the Okavango Delta UNESCO World Heritage Site), including 103 cattle-posts and their grazing land, with >2100 head of cattle 52 . These livestock farming areas surround the villages of Shorobe, Shukamukwa, Sexaxa, Morutsa and the Wildlife Management Areas bordering them: NG32, NG34, NG33, NG41 and NG47. The Okavango delta is one of the few remaining places on earth with an intact large predator guild, which persists, for now, alongside non-commercial livestock farming enterprises, but predator-livestock conflict is common in the region 51,63 .

The vegetation within these areas is a mix of mophane woodland and mixed shrubland, often bordering and including areas of fertile secondary and tertiary floodplains and dense riverine forest habitat. Africa’s large predators occur throughout these habitats, however ambush predators relying on vegetative cover and high prey densities often prefer denser vegetation with water associations and increased prey density for ambush opportunities 64,65 . When the natural prey of large predators disperse during the wet season (November–February), a shift in preference for livestock occurs (as reported by local farmers 51 ). These predators are often killed in retaliatory lethal control following livestock predation events 51 . Between 2013 and 2015, the DWNP officially recorded 67 predation events in the Shorobe livestock farming area 51 . 82% of these events involved lions, and 13% leopards, with the remaining reports involving African wild dog (Lycaon pictus), cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus), spotted hyaena and black-backed jackals (Canis mesomelas) 51 .

Cattle and painting

We selected 14 cattle-posts and herds (6–110 head of cattle in each) with recent high predation rates and owners willing to participate in the study. We consulted and informally engaged cattle-post owners on cattle and predator behaviour and activity around their cattle-posts.

During July–October 2015 and August–October 2016, August–December 2017, and April–November 2018, we painted paired artificial eyespots on the rumps of members of each herd after being herded into a cattle crush during the first few hours post-sunrise before cattle were released for the day. We applied acrylic paint (black and white or yellow) to foam stencils in the shapes of the inner and outer eye respectively, which had been glued to a wooden plasterer’s float. These colours were chosen because of their highly contrasting and aposematic features, common in natural anti-predator signalling settings 66 . On cattle with very dark coats, only the white/yellow inner eye stamps were applied, while on white cattle only the dark outer eye pattern was usually applied. Eyespots were applied to each side of the cattle’s rump whilst it was stationary within the crush (one eye on each side, applied by an observer reaching through the crush Fig. 1a, Supplementary Information, Supplementary Movie 1, Supplementary Movie 2). A procedural control for the effect of paint and processing (a painted cross-mark) was introduced during the 2017 field season and continued through 2018. The delayed introduction of this treatment did not compromise or bias our results, as it was accounted for in the survival analysis (see ‘Methods’—‘Statistical Analysis’). Black or white crosses were painted depending on which provided the best contrast with the cattle coat colour, and were of a similar size, colour and position to the artificial eyespots. Combined black and white crosses may have represented a better procedural control for some cattle, and should be considered in future applications.

For the majority of the study (from 2017), we painted approximately one-third of each herd with the artificial eyespots and one third with the control cross-marks. The rest of the herd (approximately one-third) was handled in the crush but left unmarked. Treatments for individual cattle were haphazardly selected during the random procession that cattle entered the crush to exit the overnight enclosure. We recorded identification features such as existing tag ID, coat colour, sex, age and distinguishing features such as horns for individual cattle whilst in the crush following painting of treatments and before being released. Finally, we recorded the number of cattle within each treatment and the entire herd. Animals used in the study were 609 male, 1024 female and 428 unrecorded sex adult or subadult cattle of predominantly Tswana breed (Bos taurus africanus). Throughout the study, a total of 683 were painted with eyespots, 543 were cross painted with crosses, and 835 were in the unpainted control group (Table 1). Despite variable wear, paint would typically remain clear and obvious until approximately 24 days post-application. Therefore, we replaced the paint approximately every four weeks during the study period between July 2015 and November 2018 (interval between painting visits mean = 29.61 days, sd = 14.33). We also recorded the date of each treatment application on individual cattle, and temporarily excluded herds from the study 24 days after painting if they had not had paint reapplied within this time period. If a herd was not re-painted within this time frame, then we (haphazardly) re-painted the herd on the next visit when they were included again in the study. No predation events occurred on cattle that were temporarily excluded from the study. Study herds were not processed during the rainy season months of December to February due to logistical constraints of researchers accessing the cattle-posts. Due to their being gaps in between yearly study sessions (nine months between the 2015 and 2016 study sessions nine months between the 2016 and 2017 study sessions and three months between the 2017 and 2018 study sessions), it is likely that the novelty of treatments did not wear off for locally occurring large predators throughout the study period.

We recorded survival of individual cattle in each treatment (artificial eyespots, cross-marked, unmarked) during frequent visits to the cattle-post of each study herd or following reports from cattle-post workers. Herders recognised most individuals within their herds and so were quickly aware when individuals were missing. We then investigated predation events from study herds to identify the individual cattle (and hence the treatment applied to determine if markings had the potential to be effective as a deterrent during the predation event). Herders aided us when tracking, and we recorded the date of the predation event and number of days since the most recent treatment had been applied. With the herders’ assistance, we also collected evidence to aid in the identification of predatory species. This included the bite location and distance between canine intrusions, as well as supplementary evidence such as spoor around the kill. Ambush predators occurring in the study area such as lion and leopard typically kill prey with a suffocating bite to the throat 56 . Furthermore, lions may attempt to bury the stomach contents of the prey to hide the scent from scavengers, and leopards often pull their prey into a tree, out of reach of predators 67 . Scavenger species such as spotted hyaena and black-backed jackal may have visited the carcass after the initial kill, however if typical feline canine intrusions around the neck of the cattle were present then it was assumed that this species made the initial kill as these intrusions are only made to kill the animal 56 . We only included predation events caused by ambush predators (lion and leopard) in the results assessing the effectiveness of the tool in deterring predation, but we also recorded predation involving non-ambush cursorial predators in this case only spotted hyaena (Table 1). Other predators previously reported to kill livestock in the region include cheetah (ambush), African wild dog (cursorial), caracal (ambush Caracal caracal) and black-backed jackal (cursorial), however none of these species were found or reported to have preyed upon livestock during the study period.

Exposure of cattle to predation risk

To determine whether cattle in each treatment group were exposed to similar predation risk, we fitted individuals from each treatment group with a GPS-logger (CatLog Gen2—Catnip Technologies Limited) mounted on a custom-built collar to record movement data. GPS coordinates were set to record every 10 minutes between 06:00 and 19:00 LMT (when cattle were out of the cattle-post) and every three hours at other times (when cattle were usually resting within the cattle-post enclosure). Collars were left on cattle for up to 5 months after which they were removed, downloaded, recharged, and replaced on the herd.

Two levels of predation exposure were measured during treatment periods: proportion of nights spent outside the cattle-post and maximum daily distance travelled from the cattle-post. Number of nights spent outside the cattle-post was an indication of how often cattle were exposed to predation at night when predators were more active, and cattle were not protected by the cattle-post. Maximum daily distance from the cattle-post was an indication of how far cattle travelled from the safety of the cattle-post, and hence whether they were more exposed to potential predation.

Statistics and reproducibility

All statistical analyses were performed in the program R (Version 3.5.2) and RStudio (Version 1.1.463, downloaded 15/01/2018). To measure the success of artificial eyespots (and/or cross-marks) as an ambush predator deterrent, we utilised mixed effects cox regression models using the coxme package 68 to model predation hazard for different treatments. We did this by treating each re-application of treatment as a new ‘time to event’, which ended when either (i) a predation event occurred in the herd, (ii) treatment was reapplied or (iii) 24 days after treatment, which is when the treatment had begun to wear off to the extent that it was likely ineffective. It is not possible to conduct Kaplan–Meier survival curve estimation for mixed effects cox regression models, and so we plotted survival curves using the survival 69 and ggfortify 70,71 packages. We note that this may make confidence intervals appear under-estimated relative to what would be estimated for a mixed effects approach. Throughout the analysis, we accounted for repeated measures on the same individual cattle and herd with random intercepts. We also applied the number of cattle within a herd and the number of cattle within a treatment as covariates in the analysis. To test for an overall effect of treatment on predation risk, we used a likelihood ratio test. To subsequently test for pairwise differences among the treatment groups, we created treatment data subsets to allow for pairwise comparisons of treatments using likelihood ratio tests on the pre-established mixed effects cox regression models. Subset data pairwise comparisons we included were artificial eyespots - cross-marked, artificial eyespots - unmarked, and cross-marked - unmarked. This method was used as opposed to traditional pairwise Tukey tests, to avoid misleading tests and inflated variances from a lack of predation within the artificial eyespot group (similar tactics are applied for perfect separation in logistic regression e.g. 72 ). Finally, we adjusted the p-values using the Benjamini & Hochberg method 73 .

To test if each treatment group had similar exposure to predation risk, movement data from cattle in all cattle-posts and treatment groups were compared. All fixes were standardised to 10-min intervals. Distance of each fix from the cattle-post of origin was formulated using Pythagoras theorem in R.

Number of nights spent outside the cattle-post

Each night, cattle were kept within predator-proof enclosures for safety, and were released the following morning. To determine whether the individual cattle were contained in the enclosure overnight, we extracted the GPS fix occurring between 00:00-01:00 using the lubridate package 74 . dplyr 75 was used to subset this data by location (in or out of overnight enclosure). Cattle that were moved between cattle-posts were designated to the previous cattle-post until it arrived at the next cattle-post for the first time. To account for GPS fix location error and to eliminate false positive detections, all extracted fixes within 200 metres of the cattle-post of origin were classified as enclosed, and all fixes farther than 200 metres were determined to be outside the enclosure area and more vulnerable to predation. Indeed, all fixes within 200 metres of the cattle-post were likely to be somewhat protected by herders and residents who resided close (<100 m) to the overnight enclosure. To determine if there was a difference between treatment groups in the number of nights spent outside the enclosure, we used a generalised linear mixed model with a binomial error structure where the proportion of cattle outside (00:00-01:00) was the response variable and treatment (artificial eyespots, cross-marked or unmarked) was the predictor factor variable, using the glmmTMB package 76 . Cattle-post ID and individual cattle ID were both included as random effects.

Maximum daily distance from the cattle-post

We compared maximum daily distances from the cattle-post for each treatment using a linear mixed model where the maximum daily distance from the centre of the overnight enclosure was the response variable, and treatment (artificial eyespots, cross-marked or unmarked) was the predictor. Cattle-post ID and individual cattle ID were both included as random terms to account for repeated measures. We then used a likelihood ratio test to test for an overall effect of treatment on risk of exposure to predation. We subsetted the maximum daily distances from the cattle-posts using the dplyr package 75 , and ran linear mixed effect models using the lme4 package with Gaussian error structure 77 .

All plots were created using the ggpubr 78 and ggplot2 79 packages.

Reporting summary

Further information on research design is available in the Nature Research Reporting Summary linked to this article.


Staying out of sight Edit

Animals may avoid becoming prey by living out of sight of predators, whether in caves, burrows, or by being nocturnal. [2] [3] [4] [5] Nocturnality is an animal behavior characterized by activity during the night and sleeping during the day. This is a behavioral form of detection avoidance called crypsis used by animals to either avoid predation or to enhance prey hunting. Predation risk has long been recognized as critical in shaping behavioral decisions. For example, this predation risk is of prime importance in determining the time of evening emergence in echolocating bats. Although early access during brighter times permits easier foraging, it also leads to a higher predation risk from bat hawks and bat falcons. This results in an optimum evening emergence time that is a compromise between the conflicting demands. [4]

Another nocturnal adaptation can be seen in kangaroo rats. They forage in relatively open habitats, and reduce their activity outside their nest burrows in response to moonlight. During a full moon, they shift their activity towards areas of relatively dense cover to compensate for the extra brightness. [5]

Camouflage Edit

Camouflage uses any combination of materials, coloration, or illumination for concealment to make the organism hard to detect by sight. It is common in both terrestrial and marine animals. Camouflage can be achieved in many different ways, such as through resemblance to surroundings, disruptive coloration, shadow elimination by countershading or counter-illumination, self-decoration, cryptic behavior, or changeable skin patterns and colour. [6] [7] Animals such as the flat-tail horned lizard of North America have evolved to eliminate their shadow and blend in with the ground. The bodies of these lizards are flattened, and their sides thin towards the edge. This body form, along with the white scales fringed along their sides, allows the lizards to effectively hide their shadows. In addition, these lizards hide any remaining shadows by pressing their bodies to the ground. [2]

Masquerade Edit

Animals can hide in plain sight by masquerading as inedible objects. For example, the potoo, a South American bird, habitually perches on a tree, convincingly resembling a broken stump of a branch, [8] while a butterfly, Kallima, looks just like a dead leaf. [9]

Apostatic selection Edit

Another way to remain unattacked in plain sight is to look different from other members of the same species. Predators such as tits selectively hunt for abundant types of insect, ignoring less common types that were present, forming search images of the desired prey. This creates a mechanism for negative frequency-dependent selection, apostatic selection. [10]

Many species make use of behavioral strategies to deter predators. [11]

Startling the predator Edit

Many weakly-defended animals, including moths, butterflies, mantises, phasmids, and cephalopods such as octopuses, make use of patterns of threatening or startling behaviour, such as suddenly displaying conspicuous eyespots, so as to scare off or momentarily distract a predator, thus giving the prey animal an opportunity to escape. In the absence of toxins or other defences, this is essentially bluffing, in contrast to aposematism which involves honest signals. [12] [13] [14]

Pursuit-deterrent signals Edit

Pursuit-deterrent signals are behavioral signals used by prey that convince predators not to pursue them. For example, gazelles stot, jumping high with stiff legs and an arched back. This is thought to signal to predators that they have a high level of fitness and can outrun the predator. As a result, predators may choose to pursue a different prey that is less likely to outrun them. [15] White-tailed deer and other prey mammals flag with conspicuous (often black and white) tail markings when alarmed, informing the predator that it has been detected. [16] Warning calls given by birds such as the Eurasian jay are similarly honest signals, benefiting both predator and prey: the predator is informed that it has been detected and might as well save time and energy by giving up the chase, while the prey is protected from attack. [17] [18]

Playing dead Edit

Another pursuit-deterrent signal is thanatosis or playing dead. Thanatosis is a form of bluff in which an animal mimics its own dead body, feigning death to avoid being attacked by predators seeking live prey. Thanatosis can also be used by the predator in order to lure prey into approaching. [19] An example of this is seen in white-tailed deer fawns, which experience a drop in heart rate in response to approaching predators. This response, referred to as "alarm bradycardia", causes the fawn's heart rate to drop from 155 to 38 beats per minute within one beat of the heart. This drop in heart rate can last up to two minutes, causing the fawn to experience a depressed breathing rate and decrease in movement, called tonic immobility. Tonic immobility is a reflex response that causes the fawn to enter a low body position that simulates the position of a dead corpse. Upon discovery of the fawn, the predator loses interest in the "dead" prey. Other symptoms of alarm bradycardia, such as salivation, urination, and defecation, can also cause the predator to lose interest. [20]

Distraction Edit

Marine molluscs such as sea hares, cuttlefish, squid and octopuses give themselves a last chance to escape by distracting their attackers. To do this, they eject a mixture of chemicals, which may mimic food or otherwise confuse predators. [21] [22] In response to a predator, animals in these groups release ink, creating a cloud, and opaline, affecting the predator's feeding senses, causing it to attack the cloud. [21] [23]

Distraction displays attract the attention of predators away from an object, typically the nest or young, that is being protected. [24] Distraction displays are performed by some species of birds, which may feign a broken wing while hopping about on the ground, and by some species of fish. [25]

Mimicry and aposematism Edit

Mimicry occurs when an organism (the mimic) simulates signal properties of another organism (the model) to confuse a third organism. This results in the mimic gaining protection, food, and mating advantages. [26] There are two classical types of defensive mimicry: Batesian and Müllerian. Both involve aposematic coloration, or warning signals, to avoid being attacked by a predator. [27] [28]

In Batesian mimicry, a palatable, harmless prey species mimics the appearance of another species that is noxious to predators, thus reducing the mimic's risk of attack. [27] This form of mimicry is seen in many insects. The idea behind Batesian mimicry is that predators that have tried to eat the unpalatable species learn to associate its colors and markings with an unpleasant taste. This results in the predator learning to avoid species displaying similar colours and markings, including Batesian mimics, which are in effect parasitic on the chemical or other defences of the unprofitable models. [29] [30] Some species of octopus can mimic a selection of other animals by changing their skin color, skin pattern and body motion. When a damselfish attacks an octopus, the octopus mimics a banded sea-snake. [31] The model chosen varies with the octopus's predator and habitat. [32] Most of these octopuses use Batesian mimicry, selecting an organism repulsive to predators as a model. [33] [34]

In Müllerian mimicry, two or more aposematic forms share the same warning signals, [27] [35] as in viceroy and monarch butterflies. Birds avoid eating both species because their wing patterns honestly signal their unpleasant taste. [28]

Defensive structures Edit

Many animals are protected against predators with armour in the form of hard shells (such as most molluscs), leathery or scaly skin (as in reptiles), or tough chitinous exoskeletons (as in arthropods). [25]

A spine is a sharp, needle-like structure used to inflict pain on predators. An example of this seen in nature is in the Sohal surgeonfish. These fish have a sharp scalpel-like spine on the front of each of their tail fins, able to inflict deep wounds. The area around the spines is often brightly colored to advertise the defensive capability [36] predators often avoid the Sohal surgeonfish. [37] Defensive spines may be detachable, barbed or poisonous. Porcupine spines are long, stiff, break at the tip, and are barbed to stick into a would-be predator. In contrast, the hedgehog's short spines, which are modified hairs, [38] readily bend, and are barbed into the body, so they are not easily lost they may be jabbed at an attacker. [37]

Many species of slug caterpillar, Limacodidae, have numerous protuberances and stinging spines along their dorsal surfaces. Species that possess these stinging spines suffer less predation than larvae that lack them, and a predator, the paper wasp, chooses larvae without spines when given a choice. [39]

Group living can decrease the risk of predation to the individual in a variety of ways, [40] as described below.

Dilution effect Edit

A dilution effect is seen when animals living in a group "dilute" their risk of attack, each individual being just one of many in the group. George C. Williams and W.D. Hamilton proposed that group living evolved because it provides benefits to the individual rather than to the group as a whole, which becomes more conspicuous as it becomes larger. One common example is the shoaling of fish. Experiments provide direct evidence for the decrease in individual attack rate seen with group living, for example in Camargue horses in Southern France. The horse-fly often attacks these horses, sucking blood and carrying diseases. When the flies are most numerous, the horses gather in large groups, and individuals are indeed attacked less frequently. [41] Water striders are insects that live on the surface of fresh water, and are attacked from beneath by predatory fish. Experiments varying the group size of the water striders showed that the attack rate per individual water strider decreases as group size increases. [42]

Selfish herd Edit

The selfish herd theory was proposed by W.D. Hamilton to explain why animals seek central positions in a group. [43] The theory's central idea is to reduce the individual's domain of danger. A domain of danger is the area within the group in which the individual is more likely to be attacked by a predator. The center of the group has the lowest domain of danger, so animals are predicted to strive constantly to gain this position. Testing Hamilton's selfish herd effect, Alta De Vos and Justin O'Rainn (2010) studied brown fur seal predation from great white sharks. Using decoy seals, the researchers varied the distance between the decoys to produce different domains of danger. The seals with a greater domain of danger had an increased risk of shark attack. [44]

Predator satiation Edit

A radical strategy for avoiding predators which may otherwise kill a large majority of the emerging stage of a population is to emerge very rarely, at irregular intervals. Predators with a life-cycle of one or a few years are unable to reproduce rapidly enough in response to such an emergence. Predators may feast on the emerging population, but are unable to consume more than a fraction of the brief surfeit of prey. Periodical cicadas, which emerge at intervals of 13 or 17 years, are often used as an example of this predator satiation, though other explanations of their unusual life-cycle have been proposed. [45]

Alarm calls Edit

Animals that live in groups often give alarm calls that give warning of an attack. For example, vervet monkeys give different calls depending on the nature of the attack: for an eagle, a disyllabic cough for a leopard or other cat, a loud bark for a python or other snake, a "chutter". The monkeys hearing these calls respond defensively, but differently in each case: to the eagle call, they look up and run into cover to the leopard call, they run up into the trees to the snake call, they stand on two legs and look around for snakes, and on seeing the snake, they sometimes mob it. Similar calls are found in other species of monkey, while birds also give different calls that elicit different responses. [46]

Improved vigilance Edit

In the improved vigilance effect, groups are able to detect predators sooner than solitary individuals. [47] For many predators, success depends on surprise. If the prey is alerted early in an attack, they have an improved chance of escape. For example, wood pigeon flocks are preyed upon by goshawks. Goshawks are less successful when attacking larger flocks of wood pigeons than they are when attacking smaller flocks. This is because the larger the flock size, the more likely it is that one bird will notice the hawk sooner and fly away. Once one pigeon flies off in alarm, the rest of the pigeons follow. [48] Wild ostriches in Tsavo National Park in Kenya feed either alone or in groups of up to four birds. They are subject to predation by lions. As the ostrich group size increases, the frequency at which each individual raises its head to look for predators decreases. Because ostriches are able to run at speeds that exceed those of lions for great distances, lions try to attack an ostrich when its head is down. By grouping, the ostriches present the lions with greater difficulty in determining how long the ostriches' heads stay down. Thus, although individual vigilance decreases, the overall vigilance of the group increases. [49]

Predator confusion Edit

Individuals living in large groups may be safer from attack because the predator may be confused by the large group size. As the group moves, the predator has greater difficulty targeting an individual prey animal. The zebra has been suggested by the zoologist Martin Stevens and his colleagues as an example of this. When stationary, a single zebra stands out because of its large size. To reduce the risk of attack, zebras often travel in herds. The striped patterns of all the zebras in the herd may confuse the predator, making it harder for the predator to focus in on an individual zebra. Furthermore, when moving rapidly, the zebra stripes create a confusing, flickering motion dazzle effect in the eye of the predator. [50]

Defensive structures such as spines may be used both to ward off attack as already mentioned, and if need be to fight back against a predator. [37] Methods of fighting back include chemical defences, [51] mobbing, [52] defensive regurgitation, [53] and suicidal altruism. [54]

Chemical defences Edit

Many prey animals, and to defend against seed predation also seeds of plants, [55] make use of poisonous chemicals for self-defence. [51] [56] These may be concentrated in surface structures such as spines or glands, giving an attacker a taste of the chemicals before it actually bites or swallows the prey animal: many toxins are bitter-tasting. [51] A last-ditch defence is for the animal's flesh itself to be toxic, as in the puffer fish, danaid butterflies and burnet moths. Many insects acquire toxins from their food plants Danaus caterpillars accumulate toxic cardenolides from milkweeds (Asclepiadaceae). [56]

Some prey animals are able to eject noxious materials to deter predators actively. The bombardier beetle has specialized glands on the tip of its abdomen that allows it to direct a toxic spray towards predators. The spray is generated explosively through oxidation of hydroquinones and is sprayed at a temperature of 100 °C. [57] Armoured crickets similarly release blood at their joints when threatened (autohaemorrhaging). [58] Several species of grasshopper including Poecilocerus pictus, [59] Parasanaa donovani, [59] Aularches miliaris, [59] and Tegra novaehollandiae secrete noxious liquids when threatened, sometimes ejecting these forcefully. [59] Spitting cobras accurately squirt venom from their fangs at the eyes of potential predators, [60] striking their target eight times out of ten, and causing severe pain. [61] Termite soldiers in the Nasutitermitinae have a fontanellar gun, a gland on the front of their head which can secrete and shoot an accurate jet of resinous terpenes "many centimeters". The material is sticky and toxic to other insects. One of the terpenes in the secretion, pinene, functions as an alarm pheromone. [62] Seeds deter predation with combinations of toxic non-protein amino acids, cyanogenic glycosides, protease and amylase inhibitors, and phytohemaglutinins. [55]

A few vertebrate species such as the Texas horned lizard are able to shoot squirts of blood from their eyes, by rapidly increasing the blood pressure within the eye sockets, if threatened. Because an individual may lose up to 53% of blood in a single squirt, [63] this is only used against persistent predators like foxes, wolves and coyotes (Canidae), as a last defence. [64] Canids often drop horned lizards after being squirted, and attempt to wipe or shake the blood out of their mouths, suggesting that the fluid has a foul taste [65] they choose other lizards if given the choice, [66] suggesting a learned aversion towards horned lizards as prey. [66]

The slime glands along the body of the hagfish secrete enormous amounts of mucus when it is provoked or stressed. The gelatinous slime has dramatic effects on the flow and viscosity of water, rapidly clogging the gills of any fish that attempt to capture hagfish predators typically release the hagfish within seconds (pictured above). Common predators of hagfish include seabirds, pinnipeds and cetaceans, but few fish, suggesting that predatory fish avoid hagfish as prey. [67]

Communal defence Edit

In communal defence, prey groups actively defend themselves by grouping together, and sometimes by attacking or mobbing a predator, rather than allowing themselves to be passive victims of predation. Mobbing is the harassing of a predator by many prey animals. Mobbing is usually done to protect the young in social colonies. For example, red colobus monkeys exhibit mobbing when threatened by chimpanzees, a common predator. The male red colobus monkeys group together and place themselves between predators and the group's females and juveniles. The males jump together and actively bite the chimpanzees. [52] Fieldfares are birds which may nest either solitarily or in colonies. Within colonies, fieldfares mob and defecate on approaching predators, shown experimentally to reduce predation levels. [68]

Defensive regurgitation Edit

Some birds and insects use defensive regurgitation to ward off predators. The northern fulmar vomits a bright orange, oily substance called stomach oil when threatened. [53] The stomach oil is made from their aquatic diets. It causes the predator's feathers to mat, leading to the loss of flying ability and the loss of water repellency. [53] This is especially dangerous for aquatic birds because their water repellent feathers protect them from hypothermia when diving for food. [53]

European roller chicks vomit a bright orange, foul smelling liquid when they sense danger. This repels prospective predators and may alert their parents to danger: they respond by delaying their return. [69]

Numerous insects utilize defensive regurgitation. The eastern tent caterpillar regurgitates a droplet of digestive fluid to repel attacking ants. [70] Similarly, larvae of the noctuid moth regurgitate when disturbed by ants. The vomit of noctuid moths has repellent and irritant properties that help to deter predator attacks. [71]

Suicidal altruism Edit

An unusual type of predator deterrence is observed in the Malaysian exploding ant. Social hymenoptera rely on altruism to protect the entire colony, so the self-destructive acts benefit all individuals in the colony. [54] When a worker ant's leg is grasped, it suicidally expels the contents of its hypertrophied submandibular glands, [54] expelling corrosive irritant compounds and adhesives onto the predator. These prevent predation and serve as a signal to other enemy ants to stop predation of the rest of the colony. [72]

Flight Edit

The normal reaction of a prey animal to an attacking predator is to flee by any available means, whether flying, gliding, [73] falling, swimming, running, jumping, burrowing [74] or rolling, [75] according to the animal's capabilities. [76] Escape paths are often erratic, making it difficult for the predator to predict which way the prey will go next: for example, birds such as snipe, ptarmigan and black-headed gulls evade fast raptors such as peregrine falcons with zigzagging or jinking flight. [76] In the tropical rain forests of Southeast Asia in particular, many vertebrates escape predators by falling and gliding. [73] Among the insects, many moths turn sharply, fall, or perform a powered dive in response to the sonar clicks of bats. [76] Among fish, the stickleback follows a zigzagging path, often doubling back erratically, when chased by a fish-eating merganser duck. [76]

Autotomy Edit

Some animals are capable of autotomy (self-amputation), shedding one of their own appendages in a last-ditch attempt to elude a predator's grasp or to distract the predator and thereby allow escape. The lost body part may be regenerated later. Certain sea slugs discard stinging papillae arthropods such as crabs can sacrifice a claw, which can be regrown over several successive moults among vertebrates, many geckos and other lizards shed their tails when attacked: the tail goes on writhing for a while, distracting the predator, and giving the lizard time to escape a smaller tail slowly regrows. [77]

Aristotle recorded observations (around 350 BC) of the antipredator behaviour of cephalopods in his History of Animals, including the use of ink as a distraction, camouflage, and signalling. [78]

In 1940, Hugh Cott wrote a compendious study of camouflage, mimicry, and aposematism, Adaptive Coloration in Animals. [6]

By the 21st century, adaptation to life in cities had markedly reduced the antipredator responses of animals such as rats and pigeons similar changes are observed in captive and domesticated animals. [79]

Home / Biology / What are animals that get hunted by predators called?

Predation is a biological interaction where one organism, the predator, kills and eats another organism, its prey. It is one of a family of common feeding behaviours that includes parasitism and micropredation (which usually do not kill the host) and parasitoidism (which always does, eventually). It is distinct from scavenging on dead prey, though many predators also scavenge it overlaps with herbivory, as seed predators and destructive frugivores are predators. Predators may actively search for or pursue prey or wait for it, often concealed.

Biologists discover that more intense predation in the tropics can limit marine invasions

To find out if predation changes the composition of the community of invertebrates, researchers enclosed some of the panels with a mesh cage. On the Pacific side of Panama, predation was greater than on the Atlantic side, and some species were only found in enclosed panels on the Pacific, rarely on open panels. Predation was also greater in the tropics than further north. The results of this study indicate that conserving the biodiversity of a site and protecting the predators may limit marine invasions. Credit: STRI

What makes a successful invasion? What keeps invaders out? Are some geographic locations more vulnerable to invasion than others?

Smithsonian marine biologists and colleagues at Temple University tested predictions about biological invasions, first in Panama and then in an experiment of unprecedented geographic scale. Their results are published in companion papers in the journal Ecology.

Night and day, oil tankers, yachts and cargo ships stacked with shipping containers ply the 80-kilometer (50-mile) waterway through the jungles of Panama between the Atlantic and the Pacific Ocean: about 40 ships every 24 hours. But even though the Canal is fed by freshwater rivers that empty through the locks on each end, a system that generally prevents fish and smaller marine invertebrates from hopping from ocean to ocean, some still manage to get through, clinging to the hulls of ships. Other invading species arrive from far-flung ports, dumped with ballast water as ships prepare for transit.

"Panama is a major shipping hub that provides amazing opportunities to test key ideas about marine invasions by studying two very different oceans at the same latitude," said Mark Torchin, staff scientist at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI), "I can check sites in the ocean in front of my lab at the Pacific entrance to the Canal and then drive to the Atlantic coast in an hour to check sites there. Where else in the world can you do that?"

Since the Canal opened in 1914, the human population of the world has catapulted from 2 billion to almost 8 billion. And as people move around the globe, other organisms move as well. Fish breeders in the United States imported carp from Asia to clean their ponds now Asian Carp have worked their way up the Mississippi River system to Canada, destroying natural bird and fish habitat along the way. Likewise, cane toads were introduced in Australia to control beetles, but because they have no natural predators there, toad numbers exploded. But most invasions are inadvertent, as animals (or viruses, for that matter) hitch rides on boats or planes.

"We have very practical reasons to test ideas about the success of invaders in different locations as we learn how to predict and manage invasions," said Amy Freestone, associate professor at Temple University and research associate at both STRI in Panama and the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC) in Maryland. "With these paired experimental studies, we wanted to know if marine invaders are equally successful in all environments and how important predators are to keep them in check."

First the team asked whether marine invaders are more successful in one ocean basin compared to the other. Is the proportion of non-native species higher in the less-diverse Pacific compared to the more-diverse Atlantic as theory predicts? And is there asymmetrical exchange between oceans in Panama, with more species introduced from the Atlantic to Pacific than in the opposite direction?

To find out, they suspended PVC panels as habitat patches for colonization. About the size of patio tiles, panels were placed in the water at 10 different sites near each end of the Panama Canal. They waited for 3 months for marine invertebrates to colonize the panels. Then they removed these standard collectors, photographed the results and identified the species on the panels, classifying them as either native, non-native or species of unknown origin.

They found more non-native species in the less-diverse Pacific where there were 18 non-native species, 30% of all Pacific species, than in the more-diverse Atlantic where there were 11 non-native species, 13% of all Atlantic species. And there was a higher influx of invaders from the Atlantic to the Pacific than vice versa.

Along the way they reported 9 new non-native sessile invertebrates in the Pacific and 7 in the Atlantic that were previously unknown from these areas. One of the important contributions of this project was a collaboration with the Panama Canal Authority (Autoridad del Canal de Panama, ACP) and the Panama Maritime Authority (Autoridad Maritima de Panama, AMP), with support from Panama's Secretariat for Science and Technology (SENACYT) to create an online database called Pan-NEMO of non-native species as part of the National Estuarine and Marine Exotic Species Information System (NEMESIS).

Mark Torchin, staff scientist at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) and research manager, Carmen Schloeder, harvesting a sample of marine invertebrates in Panama. Credit: STRI

The team also combed through previous scientific papers, pulling together the cumulative record of all non-native marine species reported to date in Panama. They found the same thing: eight times more non-native species were reported from the Pacific than from the Atlantic in this area.

Next they looked for evidence of a concept called biotic resistance, the idea that, in biodiverse environments, it is harder for invaders to gain a foothold because they have to compete with the natives and survive alongside native predators. To test effects of predators, they compared caged and uncaged panels in two companion studies. They suspended uncovered panels, panels with mesh cages to keep predators out, and panels with mesh along the sides but open at one end at 3 sites per ocean, waited three months, and then identified the invertebrates and weighed them.

Predation substantially reduced biomass and changed non-native species composition in the Pacific, but not on the Atlantic coast. Some of the dominant non-native species were particularly susceptible to predation in the Pacific, supporting the hypothesis that predation reduces the abundance of certain non-native species.

Based on the results of the Panama experiments the research team secured funding from the US National Science Foundation to also test the idea that predation is stronger the closer you get to the equator and to find out how it impacts communities of marine invertebrates. To do this, they put out PVC panels, with and without cages at 12 sites in 4 regions: subarctic, Ketchikan, Alaska temperate, San Francisco, California subtropical La Paz, Mexico and tropical Panama City, Panama.

"These projects not only provide interesting data," said Carmen Schloeder, research manager in the Torchin lab and co-author of both studies, "but also a great experience working for extended periods of time in different environments with collaborators from many different cultural backgrounds. I'm proud to be part of a diverse core team which includes many women: to be able to work with and learn from inspiring colleagues is an essential part of science. "

Results of the second experiment showed that indeed, predators closer to the equator were more diverse, predation rates were higher, predators were larger and they spent more time interacting with their prey. Predation is a much more important force in the tropics than further north. In the tropics, the effects of predators were obvious: they reduced the biomass on the plates and changed the composition of the organisms. In the North, this didn't happen. Communities of marine invertebrates are hit harder by predators in the tropics.

"We show that predators are a critical component of these marine ecosystems, particularly in the tropics, and can limit the abundance of introduced species," Freestone said. "Protect the predators—that is, protect these diverse environments—and you are protecting the world's oceans from invasions by species that may radically alter the balance of marine ecosystems."

"Healthy ecosystems resist invasions," said Gregory Ruiz from the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC). "Along with global efforts to reduce organism transfers by ships, conservation of native predator populations plays a critical role in biosecurity to prevent new invasions."

Mark E Torchin et al, Asymmetry of marine invasions across tropical oceans, Ecology (2021). DOI: 10.1002/ecy.3434

6.14: Predation - Biology

The fundamental currency of normative models of animal decision making is Darwinian fitness. In foraging ecology, empirical studies typically assess foraging strategies by recording energy intake rates rather than realized reproductive performance [1]. This study provides a rare empirical link, in a vertebrate predator-prey system, between a predator's foraging behavior and direct measures of its reproductive fitness. Goshawks Accipiter gentilis selectively kill rare color variants of their principal prey, the feral pigeon Columba livia, presumably because targeting odd-looking birds in large uniform flocks helps them overcome confusion effects and enhances attack success [2, 3, 4]. Reproductive performance of individual hawks increases significantly with their selectivity for odd-colored pigeons, even after controlling for confounding age effects. Older hawks exhibit more pronounced dietary preferences, suggesting that hunting performance improves with experience [5, 6]. Intriguingly, although negative frequency-dependent predation by hawks exerts strong selection against rare pigeon phenotypes [7], pigeon color polymorphism is maintained through negative assortative mating [8].


► Goshawks are agile bird hunters that, in cities, specialize on killing feral pigeons ► When under attack from raptors, pigeons seek safety in numbers (“selfish herd”) ► Hawks select odd-colored pigeons in flocks, to avoid confusion (“oddity effect”) ► Goshawks' reproductive performance increases with their selectivity for odd pigeons

Watch the video: Adaptations Of Predators And Prey. Ecology u0026 Environment. Biology. FuseSchool (September 2022).


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